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“For the moment, we see that all the favourites are on the defensive, merely doing what it takes to prevent falls,” Rolland said. “I prefer to seize opportunities when the route is suitable. Maybe in the last week, I'l...

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02.07.2013 @ 10:02 Posted by Jesper Ralbjerg

Despite his claims that he would concentrate on the general classification even if it meant neglecting the KOM jersey, Pierre Rolland (Europcar) was on the attack for the second straight day in yesterday’s third stage of the Tour de France, between Ajaccio and Calvi, and left the island of Corsica with a comfortable lead in the mountains classification.

 

Rolland completed the third stage clad almost entirely from head to toe in an all polka-dot outfit, including his helmet and bike. The Europcar rider unmistakably looks like the best French hope for overall glory and crested the top of the stage’s final climb in solitude - with just 13.5km to go - and was joined by a small group, but a stage win eluded the Frenchman as he was eventually reeled in inside the final three kilometres.

"I said I'd be in the right group that was riding at the front,” said Rolland to letour.fr after the stage. “Then, on the final climb, I asked David [Malacarne] to come with me. Then I could take the points at the top, which means that I can wear this polka-dot jersey for a few days. I know very well that this is something very important about the Tour.”

At the summit Rolland was 20 seconds clear of the peloton, earning another five points in the overall mountains classification in the process, and was joined on the descent by Mikel Nieve (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Lars Petter Nordhaug (Belkin) and Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), but the quartet was unable to remain clear of the chasing pack led by Cannondale who sought to set up a stage win for Peter Sagan.

“David launched me really well,” Rolland added. “Once I was out ahead I thought I'd give it a go. When I saw that it was Chavanel who was coming onto my wheel I told myself that the stage win was a possibility, but unfortunately the peloton came back on us extremely quickly.”

Taking up a waiting position in the peloton is just not Rolland’s style, as he explained.

“For the moment, we see that all the favourites are on the defensive, merely doing what it takes to prevent falls,” Rolland said. “I prefer to seize opportunities when the route is suitable. Maybe in the last week, I'll pay for it, but I don’t think it’s ever killed anyone to make such efforts.”

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