After seven years, two former riders with Europcar – Pierre Rolland and Cyril Gautier – will be back to throw in their challenge for Petronas Le Tour de Langkawi 2020 with a new continental team in B&B Hotels-Vital Concept.
With a colourful history under their saddle having ridden in several of the biggest races in the world including the Grand Tours, the Tour de France, the two veterans will provide much of the thrust and also the attention in the climb up Genting Highlands on Stage Four.
At LTdL 2013 during their time with Europcar, Rolland completed the tour on 20th in the General Classification while Gautier DNF as the team’s concentration at the time was in assisting sprint specialist Bryan Coquard, who won two stages in Tanah Merah and also Kuala Berang.
However, this time round the duo will for sure be out to make an impact at the 25th edition of the Petronas Le Tour de Langkawi, given their vast experience and their desire to give more credence to the new team B&B that was established in 2017 and which was placed 26th in the world last season.
And while it may be early season yet, Rolland and Gautier would have savoured their past experience in riding under the hot and humid conditions of Petronas Le Tour de Langkawi and they will be all the more prepared for the unexpected.
Thirty-three year old Rolland, born in Gien, was previously with Credit Agricole, Bbox-Bouygues Telecom, Europcar and Cannondale before signing up for B&B last season, is considered as one of the best rider France had ever produced.
He was crowned as the Best Young Rider at TdF 2011, when he won Stage 19 in the climb up the punishing Alpe d’Huez, for him to finish tenth overall in the GC.
Rolland repeated that fine performance a year later where after absorbing a crash earlier on Stage 11, he went off with three others before he then went on a solo assault to take the stage and to eventually finished TdF 2012 on eighth.
In 2013, Rolland was in the King of the Mountains polka dot jersey from Stage 2 to Stage 7 and then regained it back on Stage 9. But he lost out Stage 15 after losing to Chris Froome in the climb up Mont Ventoux.
With 10 appearances at TdF, twice at Giro d’Italia and four Vuelta a Espana on his shoulders, Rolland can be considered as one of the most well-heeled riders when the 22 teams lined up for the start of Petronas LTdL 2020 for Stage 1 in Bandar Kuching on 7 February.
Alongside Rolland who would be integral in the climb up Genting would be Gautier, a vastly experienced rider formerly with Bboc-Bouygues Telecom and Europcar on 2009-2015, and AG2R (2016-2018) where he was always the domestique for the team’s main rider Romain Bardet.
With an aggressive riding style, Gautier had been to the Tour de France eight times, with his best finishing 25th in 2014, with the 32-year-old Plouagat native considered still at the top of his game after winning the King of the Mountains at Tour de Haut Var last year.
Other than the two veterans, B&B Hotels has also lined up 28-year-old Quentin Pacher, a sprinter who will be looked to provide the edge in the chase for points and also winning stages. He is also deft in the climbs with the Libourne-born rider heading to the Grand Prix Cycliste la Marseillaise before his arrival into Kota Kinabalu.
Three other riders who will complete the roster for B&B Hotels under team manager Gilles Pauchard are Johan Le Bon, 28 years-old; Jeremy Lecroq, 24; and Justin Mottier, 26.
Le Bon was with Pro Tour Francaise des Jeux from 2015 to 2017, while Mottier is expected to be the lead out man for young sprinter Lecroq.
The 8-stage Jubilee edition is scheduled from 6 to 15 February 2020, covering a total distance of 1095.7km across 9 states which include Sarawak, Terengganu, Pahang, Federal Territories (Putrajaya and Kuala Lumpur) Selangor, Perak , Penang and Kedah.