Pierre Rolland: “I gave everything I had, and when I take my shower, I will have no regrets.”
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Friday, July 19, 2013

Pierre Rolland: “I gave everything I had, and when I take my shower, I will have no regrets.”

by Ben Atkins at 1:28 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
French climber comes so close but abandons hope of taking polka-dot jersey

pierre rollandToday’s 19th stage of the 2013 Tour de France was a case of ‘so near, yet so far’ on two levels for Pierre Rolland (Europcar), as his lone escape was pulled back by eventual stage winner Rui Costa (Movistar). Not only did the Frenchman miss out on the stage win that he has been craving since his overall ambitions evaporated in the Pyrénées but, the fact that Costa and several others passed him before he could reach the top of the Col de la Croix Fry, meant that he was also denied the chance to take the lead in the mountains classification.

Rolland was only fourth across the top of first climb of the Col du Glandon, but managed to bridge across to lone leader Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) on the Col de la Madeleine that followed. With the Canadian unable to contribute further as they scaled the next climb of the Col de Tamié, Rolland pressed on alone, but was ultimately chased down by the riders behind him.

The 26-year-old Frenchman was awarded with the consolation of the “Prix de la Combativité”, but missed out on both of the prizes he was aiming for.

“When I saw that there was Hesjedal at the front, I thought it was a good candidate for a breakaway,” Rolland explained after the stage. “He is solid, and one that does not quit. Only now it was not the best we've seen from Hesjedal. With the level he had when he won the Giro, I think it would have been different. In any case I believed something could happen; when you are in this situation, it is essential to believe in what we do.

Rolland's Europcar team is the defending champion in the Tour’s mountains classification, having taken the polka-dot jersey through Thomas Voeckler in 2012, but - starting the day 53 points behind classification leader Chris Froome (Team Sky) - this was not his primary target.

“I aimed only for the stage win, and then there was the opportunity to take points for the polka-dot jersey, but it was not the goal,” Rolland said. “It was the big stage in the Alps, and I've ridden it in its entirety in training. I gave everything I had, and when I take my shower, I will have no regrets. But Rui Costa is a very strong, and when he joined me at the front he was much cooler than me.”

Having won on Alpe d’Huez in 2011, and on La Toussuire in 2012, Rolland has just one more chance to take a mountain stage in the 2013 race. Having made such an effort in today’s stage, however, there will surely be little chance of this.

Rolland’s efforts over today’s climbs have lifted him to second place in the mountains classification, but he will wear the polka-dot jersey in tomorrow’s stage to Annecy-Semnoz in lieu of Froome, who holds the Maillot Jaune. The Frenchman trails by just one point - with 103 points to Froome’s 104 - but, having come so tantalisingly close to the lead, he is realistic about his slim chances of taking it over outright tomorrow.

There are three 3rd category, one 2nd category, and one 1st category climbs on the way to the finish of tomorrow’s stage, but it will be the hors category climb on the finish line that should decide the classification. A climb at the end of a stage carries double points, which means that there will be 50 points on offer to the day’s winner and, since it will be the last chance for the general classification riders to take time out of one another before Paris, it will likely be one of them that takes them.

This would likely mean that Froome himself will take the polka-dot jersey to add to his yellow one, or Nairo Quintana (Movistar) takes it to add to his white one.

“Tomorrow I will see if there are opportunities to take points for the polka-dot jersey, but it may not be before the final climb,” Rolland reasoned. “Because with the efforts that I have provided today, I can not see myself finishing in the top ten in Semnoz, and the favourites will certainly play to win there, so they'll score points.”

Rolland’s best hope for taking Europcar's second straight mountains jersey surely lies with him taking the two points he needs to take the outright lead in the competition on one of the early climbs, and then hoping that - like today - a large enough breakaway can swallow up the points at the finish ahead of the battle for yellow behind them.

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