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“He is the only leader well placed in the overall rankings to have taken risks and attacked from a long way out," Arnould says

Photo: Sirotti






05.06.2014 @ 12:01 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Pierre Rolland finished an excellent Giro d'Italia in fourth overall and his Europcar team admit that they were pleasantly surprised by the result. Sports director Dominique Arnould was especially pleased with the aggressive spirit of his captain who was the only GC rider to make attacks from afar.


Dominique Arnould revisits his team’s incredible Giro. And even if he knew Pierre Rolland was capable of such a feat, his sports director could not have imagined that he would be aiming for the podium. Enough to inspire the whole team to new heights.


“For me, nothing will ever be the same again”, reveals Pierre Rolland in L’Équipe, after his success in following Nairo Quintana on the vertiginous slopes of the Plan di Montecampione. Because in doing so, he was able to rival the man that some people consider to be the best climber around. And better still, he achieved more than anyone had hoped for by finishing 4th in the final overall rankings.


Before the start, even if Team Europcar and its leader had high hopes, they were among the outsiders and not really one of the favourites. “After the team time trial in Ireland, we didn’t think that the Giro would be like this”, admits Dominique Arnould. Over the first week, we saw a lot of the team: “we always managed to have a rider there at the right time, and that’s important”, he emphasises, with more than a little admiration for his riders, “we made the most of all the stages that suited the team”.


Although team did not bring home any stage victories, a real leader did emerged: Pierre Rolland. “We knew that Pierre could get into the top 10, but it was only as the race progressed that we began to dream of the top 5 and the podium”, says his sports director. And from dream to reality, there was not far to go. It was perhaps during the 16th stage that Pierre Rolland took the final step: “I was more surprised than anyone to see him achieve such a feat on that stage. Pierre likes warm weather and, in such appalling conditions with snow and cold, he could well have suffered. What he did was just great”. Better still, alongside the best, he gave everything he had to achieve a result: “he is the only leader well placed in the overall rankings to have taken risks and attacked from a long way out”, Dominique Arnould says proudly.


And throughout the Giro, the Orleans native demonstrated exceptional skills, as the team’s sports director points out: “he made no mistakes and showed no weaknesses during the stages”. Ultimately, the only remaining room for manoeuvre was in the time trials. Dominique Arnould explains that “in the team time trials, we were among the 5 or 6 teams to set off in appalling conditions, with rain all the way. We lost about thirty seconds. In the individual time trials, Pierre managed to limit the damage. But he still needs to work on that, even if he did have a fabulous result in the final timed section in the hills”.


The huge advantage for Pierre Rolland was also being able to count on a team that was inspired by his performance: “the team did an extraordinary job for Pierre Rolland during the Giro. When the leader’s going well, the team gets right behind him and vice versa. When we go after the overall rankings, the riders stick together and they gave their all for Pierre in the final week”.


With the performance they put in over the three weeks of the race, Team Europcar can now realistically aim high: “Pierre has shown that he can win a major tour”. The sports director goes on to explain, “the Giro suits him better than the Tour de France, because he’s much more of a mountain person. Even if he is at a slight disadvantage on the really steep sections compared to smaller men like Quintana or Pozzovivo, the race is made for him”.


Before going on to attack the World Tour races, the courageous team members selected for the Giro plan to enjoy a short break. Most of them will be getting back in the saddle for the Tour de Suisse or the Route du Sud. As for Pierre Rolland, he will probably not compete again until the French Championships. The leader of Team Europcar will then doubtless be part of the selection to compete in the Tour de France, along with Thomas Voeckler and Bryan Coquard. “For the others, their selection will depend on their physical condition and their results in the Dauphiné and the Tour de Suisse”, explains a very satisfied Dominique Arnould.


“We experienced a thrilling Giro, with emotions running high and some wild stages…”



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