One day after it was confirmed that Ryder Hesjedal would leave Cannondale-Garmin, the American team has announced the signature of another lanky climber, Pierre Rolland.
The French rider will travelling across to the team from Europcar, the squad where he has competed since 2009. Since first lining out for that team under its previous guise of Bbox Bouygues Telecom, he has clocked up Tour de France overall finishes of tenth, eighth, 11th and tenth. He was also the best young rider in the 2011 Tour, and won stages that year and in 2012.
He was also fourth overall in last year’s Giro d’Italia and won the 2015 Vuelta a Castilla y León.
“I am very honored by the trust placed in me by Cannondale-Garmin and am determined to ride well for them,” said Rolland. “This is truly a great opportunity for me, and I am very excited about 2016.”
Team CEO Jonathan Vaughters likened Rolland’s riding style to that of Thierry Claveyrolat, the 1990 Tour de France King of the Mountains. He believes that Rolland can also achieve that feat.
“Pierre is a rider that shows determination, style and panache year after year. He rides in the style of big gear, head up and always attacking. That style is something I respect and admire about Pierre,” he said.
He believes that further improvements are possible for the 28 year old, who hasn’t progressed as expected since his eighth in the 2012 Tour.
“I believe that for all of his talent, he still has untapped potential,” Vaughters said. “We hope to bring some work in aerodynamics and a bit of fresh air to help him maximize that potential, while retaining that panache and style that make him the great rider he is.
“He is a rider who I believe can one day win the Polka Dot jersey and is an exciting addition to our 2016 line-up.”
In addition to Hesjedal, Dan Martin is also exiting the team. Tom Danielson, who was confirmed earlier this month as testing positive for exogenous testosterone, is likely to be hit with a suspension and so the team will lack three of its most experienced riders in 2016.
Vaughters said that Rolland can help to fill that gap.
“We have an exceptionally talented roster of young riders; what we need to continue to build is leadership for the young guys by giving them experienced riders that they can learn from to better harness their own talents. Rolland brings that in spades.”