Thank you, Pierre Rolland, for restoring our faith in humanity

A playful Twitter exchange resulted in a self-styled ‘Pierrerollandien’ sharing a meal with his hero this week.

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This is not news as such, but as the world burns and the real news is dominated by political turmoil, warnings of crippling global recession, devastating and ill-fated warfare, and social media’s imminent collapse – not to mention the potential demise of a French ProTeam – it’s nice to be reminded once in a while that heartwarming stories and good people still exist.

Darling of French cycling Pierre Rolland stepped into the public conscious on Friday afternoon as it emerged that he’d made one fan’s dream come true.

I’m sure we’ve all daydreamed about one day sitting down for coffee, a beer or even a whole meal with a sporting hero, and it’s this very idea that sparked a heartwarming series of events this summer, when Twitter user Cyclo Noé (a teacher and ‘inveterate Pierrollandien’ who keeps his account anonymous) responded to a whimsical question posed by a tennis fan: what would you do if you met Federer or your favourite player in a restaurant?

“If one day I cross paths with Rolland in a restaurant,” our Pierrollandien wrote, “either I’ll find the courage to express my gratitude to him for what he changed in my life, or I’ll faint head first into my plate of lasagne.”

This witty remark got a decent amount of traction, and though Rolland was mentioned in the tweet, our protagonist surely hardly dared imagine that it would yield any more than a like, or perhaps a polite short reply. And then:

“One of these days, I think we could go eat together in a restaurant,” Rolland replied, emojis included. “That would be nice! And I love pasta too 🍝😋”

Sure, this was June. Rolland was probably at a pre-Tour de France altitude camp eating a carb-low diet of white meat and bland vegetables, salivating at the very thought of falling head first into a plate of pasta; he’d never follow through on such an idea, surely.

But he did, Rolland kept his promise, and on Wednesday November 9th, his fan tweeted again. A little cryptic this time, although blatantly obvious to anyone with any knowledge of the context.

“What question would you ask your favourite cyclist if you found yourself face to face with him for a meal? (No no, I ask for no reason…😏⏰)”

Then on Friday, the two Frenchmen met for lunch. 

Interested parties were naturally curious as to what questions were asked, one even requesting a ‘debrief’, but Cyclo Noé declined to commit, only revealing that rather than peppering his hero – who he described as passionate and very pleasant – with questions, they shared a flowing conversation, or as Google translate offers: “a river of discussion”.

And Rolland enjoyed it too, saying, “A very beautiful moment to share.”

But Kit, did he pass out in his lasagne?

No! In fact, he chose a bourguignon instead of tempting fate.

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