Pierre Rolland (EF Education First-Drapac) has withdrawn from the French team for the World Championships in Innsbruck and will be replaced by Warren Barguil (Fortuneo-Oscaro) in the line-up for the elite men's road race next Sunday.
Rolland, who will ride for Vital Concept next season, was named in Cyrille Guimard’s eight-man team after an aggressive showing in the opening half of the Vuelta a España, but he was stricken by bronchitis in recent days and decided to hand back his selection, explaining his decision in a post on social media.
"The state of my health would not have allowed me to represent the French team in a dignified way at the World Championships in Innsbruck," Rolland wrote. "This was obviously a difficult decision to take but I had to be honest with myself, my teammates, the national jersey and all that it represents. I wish all the best to the French team in Innsbruck this week and I hope they come away with one or more world champion’s jerseys in their suitcases on Sunday night."
Guimard praised Rolland’s honesty in handing back his selection for the Worlds, where a strong French team featuring Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors), Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) and Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) will line up with genuine ambitions of claiming the country’s first elite men’s rainbow jersey since 1997.
"Pierre called me on Saturday. He’s ill, he’s got heavy bronchitis and he couldn’t finish his intensity training ride," Guimard told L’Équipe.
Guimard has selected Warren Barguil to replace Rolland in the French squad. Barguil has struggled this season since swapping Sunweb for Fortuneo-Oscaro, though he was previously in contention for the final slot in Guimard’s initial eight-man selection, which went to Alexandre Geniez (AG2R La Mondiale).
Barguil has shown flashes of form in recent weeks, placing third at the GP de Wallonie and performing aggressively en route to 10th at Saturday's Memorial Marco Pantani. The Breton will now join Alaphilippe, Pinot, Bardet, Geniez, Tony Gallopin (AG2R La Mondiale), Rudy Molard and Anthony Roux (Groupama-FDJ) in the team for Sunday’s road race.
"My first thoughts go towards Pierre Rolland," Barguil wrote in a post on social media. "Cyrille Guimard called me and asked me to fill in for his withdrawal, and I’d like to thank him for the confidence he has shown in me."
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