Pierre Rolland was one of the revelations of this year's Tour de France, and the 24 year-old Frenchman is looking to the future with a certain dose of self-confidence. In a recent chat on Eurosport, he said that he now expects a lot more of himself.
"To win a stage again, or do similar feats [to winning on Alpe d'Huez] should be a minimum. [To win] the polka-dot jersey and maybe even the yellow jersey... I'm not setting limits for myself. Those are definitely possibilities."
The Frenchman however claims he won't chase all the leader's jerseys.
"My goal remains GC," said Rolland. "The next stage is to win the Tour. Can I do it? It's still far too early to say."
Rolland, who rides for the Europcar team, was 11th overall at 10:43 behind Cadel Evans in this year’s Tour de France. He lost time in the first week, notably on stage 7 to Chateauroux where a crash meant a 6:16 loss on GC, then on stage 17 to Pinerolo where he lost 37 seconds to Evans on the final descent.
"I didn't take risks" he said. "I absolutely didn't want to crash. It was my decision [to lose time]." Without these two stages Rolland could in theory have finished as high as eigth in GC, ahead of two-time Giro d’Italia winner Ivan Basso.
The Frenchman was also bullish when asked whether compatriot and teammate Thomas Voeckler could have won the Tour.
"Yes, he could have. If BMC hadn't ridden the day on the day to Saint-Flour and if Contador hadn't ridden so hard on the Télégraphe I think he would’ve certainly had a chance."
Voeckler eventually finished a career-best fourth overall, but his result was part due to the loyal performance from his younger teammate. Rolland first showed his form on Luz-Ardiden and never looked back.
"On the first [mountain top] finish at Luz Ardiden we rode tempo and I was able to stay up there with Thomas and the other favourites. I saw I was near their level. I realised my preparation for the Tour was good, that I was in good form."
Staying with Europcar in 2012
Rolland confirmed he will ride for Europcar again next year as he's under contract until 2013. He played down rumours of any rift between himself and his team leader.
"Thomas and I racing in the same team won't be a problem. We showed it this year, didn't we?"
He also denied a rumour about a possible transfer to BMC, although he did comment that he would’ve been happy to ride for Cadel Evans in this year’s Tour. Rolland also revealed he admires Ivan Basso.
"Several times he came to talk to me and congratulated me on my performances. He's very sincere. Before his doping problems he was the rider I admired the most. I imagined myself having a life like his."
Rolland said he was going to avoid the media spotlight and try and stay as level-headed as possible in the years to come.
"I walked on the Champs [Elysees] last Monday and I was being recognised by people," he revealed. "There is pressure from the media but I know how it works. I'm a rider before anything else. I've got a career plan and I just want to follow it."
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