Exclusive – Pierre Rolland puts an end to his career: “Don’t be sad about me”

A page turns for Pierre Rolland, certainly in a hurry, but not so painfully. The 36-year-old French climber has decided to end his career at the end of this 2022 season. The former Tour de France white jersey was set to ride for at least another year, in 2023, with the team. B&B by Jérôme Pineau , for whom he had worked since 2019. But the structure in question is on the verge of collapse due to lack of sufficient funding. Only the hope of a reconstruction from the third division survives. Rolland, he will go ahead and put the bike on. Happy not to go off on a bad workout, he explains to us that he “beautiful projects“, without revealing the content.

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Without a team next season, you’ve made a decision about your future…

Pierre Roland : Yes, I have decided to put an end to my career. I see people around me, some who barely know me, who are sad about me. I want to say to them “don’t be sorry for me because I’m not”. I am happy for these 16 years. Fate decided it, and I don’t go against it. I have beautiful projects that animate me, I want them to start. If I didn’t know what to do with my skin in three months… well, I’d be sad, I’d feel empty. But this is not the case.

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You came close to a stage win at the Tour of Croatia two months ago… Is it still a little frustrating to turn the page while still feeling capable of aiming for success?

PR : On the contrary, I am happy to end my career on a good note rather than finish at the back of the pack and drag out my misery. I still felt able to do one, two or even three years, physically. But they were “bonus” years, as was this 2022 season in my eyes. So finish with a Paris-Bourges, that’s good (he finished 57th in the race that started from Gien, where he’s from, ed. note).

Did you have other options? The thing about returning to TotalEnergies for example (he belonged to this team until 2015, when it was called Europcar, editor’s note)?

PR : There was no contact with TotalEnergies. Jean-Rene [Bernaudeau] (leader of the structure, editor’s note) has my number. If he had wanted to call me, he could have. I understand that integrating a rider is complicated, the numbers and budgets are tight for many. I was still in contact with teams and it didn’t work out for various reasons.”

I preferred to advise recruiting this or that team rider (B&B), younger, rather than trying to fit in at all costs

Now that you have made your choice, can you tell us who these teams were?

PR : I do not want to reveal the identity of these formations, to their partners, etc. I preferred to advise them to recruit this or that team rider (B&B), younger, rather than trying to fit in at all costs. I have already had the opportunity to prove myself. And I didn’t see myself rediscovering a new structure.

Do any of your (former) teammates ask you for advice?

PR : Yes, it is painful, a team that stops, the legal aspect, etc., some people approach me, ask my advice to find a new formation.

Will you stay invested in Jérôme Pineau’s structure if he succeeds in giving it a new life in the amateur world?

PR : If the team starts again from amateur level, I will not be a sports supporter. A project in Continental (3rd division) is an early career project to get started, a mid-career project to come back… but that’s not where I want to end my career. On the other hand, I want to be a moral support.

Do you feel the need to cut with the bike? Or are you going on long excursions next year or even competing with amateurs individually?

PR : I continue to train for fun and will continue to do so. Maybe we’ll see you on slightly longer formats, “ultra”, in the summer season. I have projects in the cycling world. I can’t say more yet.

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