'I race hard... If there's a chance to go on the attack, I don't think. That's the way I see cycling.'

Cannondale-Drapac say they were feeling the pressure to win a WorldTour race, but followed up one at the Tour of California with a second at the Giro d'Italia on stage 17

Pierre Rolland celebrates victory after stage 17 of the Giro d'Italia 2017
(Image credit: Yuzuru Sunada)

Cannondale-Drapac says that the pressure was on with no WorldTour wins in two years, now they have two in one week after the Tour of California and the Giro d'Italia stage 17 under the Dolomite peaks by Pierre Rolland.

Rolland, who has been active in a number of breakaways during the 100th Giro, coming third on stage 11, says that he's been racing on attacking instinct to try at get Cannondale the long awaited win despite the pressure.

Two years had passed since Davide Formolo won the Giro d'Italia stage to La Spezia, site of the American team's last WorldTour win. That all changed in the last week when Andrew Talansky won the Mount Baldly stage in California and on Wednesday when Rolland escaped solo to Canazei.

>>> Five talking points from stage 17 of the Giro d’Italia

"We were feeling that pressure, but, the crew we have here, it was going to happen," said Canadian Michael Woods who formed the 42-man early escape with French team-mate Rolland. "We kept on saying that and now we have it.

"We've got a lot of talent and heart in this team. We have guys that are riding aggressively. The way we are riding right now, we are going to keep on winning. This is just the start."

Pierre Rolland attacks on stage 17 of the Giro d'Italia (Sunada)
(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

Woods waited for the sprint and Rolland tried to attack. Rolland's move at 7.7 kilometres remaining in the 219-kilometre stage stuck.

He soloed uphill to Canazei with 24 seconds on the group behind, which Woods policed. The overall favourites with pink jersey Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) arrived 7-54 minutes later.

The pressure valve has been released for Cannondale-Drapac, which sat at the bottom of the 18 WorldTour teams in terms of wins.

The team now has a total of two wins for 2017 compared to 30 for Quick-Step at the top of the rankings. Only Astana, with one, ranks lower.

The win came via 30-year-old Rolland, who spent many years in French teams racing for the overall.

With Europcar, he placed fourth overall in the 2014 Giro d'Italia and 10th twice in the Tour de France. He went out on a limb to join Cannondale, where he became a stage hunter.

Pierre Rolland celebrates victory after stage 17 of the Giro d'Italia 2017. Photo : Yuzuru SUNADA
(Image credit: Yuzuru Sunada)

"In the winter, I went to Colorado and talked with [general manager] Jonathan Vaughters, who is now my coach," Rolland explained.

"We talked a lot of about a new chapter in my career. We realised I'm not suited to the classification, but I'm an attacker and so waiting is against my nature. We decided to go for stage wins on both the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France.

"I found a role for me in this team. I hope I can inspire the other riders in it and been an example for them.

"I think cycling has changed. Everybody waits and waits, to save energy. But if you wait too long, it's game over. I prefer to race hard, as if there's no tomorrow.

"Maybe I get 10th or second but that's OK. If there's a chance to go on the attack, I don't think. That's the way I see cycling."

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Gregor Brown

Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.