Rolland: "2013 Tour will be awesome"
Pierre Rolland is satisfied with 2013 Tour de France route, which ideally suits his strengths as a climber. The 26-year-old is hoping to make a serious impression in July as leader of Team Europcar.
For the past two years, Rolland has won a stage on the world's biggest stage race en route to securing a top ten finish in Paris. Last summer, Rolland finished in eighth place – the highest Frenchman in the Tour – and won stage 11 to La Toussuire.
In 2011, Rolland rode into the white jersey with a remarkable stage-winning performance on Alpe d'Huez – making him the only current rider in the current peloton alongside Frank Schleck who has tasted victory on the iconic climb. Just as well that the 2013 route takes on the famous 21 hairpins of Alpe d'Huez twice in one afternoon, then.
"It's a beautiful route, filled with mythical things. It really inspires me. It really could not be better for me," said Rolland after the presentation in Paris on Wednesday.
"I appreciate that there are less time trial kilometres than before. I look at the map. I see Mont Ventoux and my mind is filled with beautiful images. I see Alpe d'Huez and I imagine the hoards of fans that will be there – it's going to be awesome."
Last year's route included more than 100 kilometres of time trials and only three mountaintop finishes. Next year, in the race's centenary edition, there will be just two shorter ITTs – one of which a mountain parcours – and four summit finishes. It's a race that should suit climber who can time trial – as opposed to a strong time triallist who can climb and who has a team to defend his lead in the mountains.
"It's a complete and rounded Tour de France. It has everything that it needs – time trials, summit finishes... Alpe d'Huez will be hard – and it will be two times the pleasure. It's going to be huge. As soon as the race starts, I will try to shine. The Ventoux – I'm thinking about it already," said Rolland, who has developed a knack of winning the queen stage of the Tour.
"It will take a lot of hard work before setting a goal and it's still too early to state. But I already want to do better this year," added Rolland.
New Europcar directeur sportif Sebastien Joly was also upbeat about Rolland's chances.
"This Tour will really get our spirits high. The fact that there is a difficult uphill time trial should smile on Pierre. On a sporting plane, for us it's an excellent route. It would be difficult to imagine a better route for Pierre," said Joly, who will take up his new role on the team in January.
"The 100th Tour de France has many eye-catching moments: Corsica, two ascents of Alpe d'Huez, the Champs Elysees in the evening... It's well balanced and will be very exciting."
Knowing that the route is ideally suited to his strengths will give Rolland extra motivation to train hard in the off-season in preparation of the Grand Depart in Porto-Vecchio on 29th June. In a 100% French 100th edition of the French race, Team Europcar will be hoping a Frenchman can make it onto the podium.