Pierre Rolland defied the cold and the chasing peloton at the Etoile de Bessèges to give Team Europcar its first win of the 2012 season.
Rolland was the revelation of the 2011 Tour de France, winning the stage to L’Alpe d’Huez and the best young rider’s white jersey. He used his class and excellent early season form to ensure his Colnago C59 was first over the line.
Rolland raced with confidence. He secured a place in the eight-rider breakaway that shaped the stage; then while other riders struggled and were left behind, he and Franck Vermeulen managed to hold off the chasing peloton on the finishing circuits and then Rolland won the two-rider sprint.
“All the guys rode really well,” Team Europcar directeur sportif Ishmael Mottier explained. “We placed two riders in the first break of 13 riders and then when they came back, Pierre made the race hard and forced the break. He’s had a good winter, he’s confident of his form and you can see it in the way he’s racing. He wanted to pay back the other guys in the team for their work.”
Thanks to his stage victory, Rolland now has an excellent chance of overall victory in the early season stage race.