Europcar looking at extra training sessions after Tour du Haut Var
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Monday, February 20, 2012

Europcar looking at extra training sessions after Tour du Haut Var

by Kyle Moore at 3:40 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Mixed emotions for confident French team after Voeckler fails to repeat

Thomas VoecklerAt the conclusion of the Tour du Haut Var, with Sunday’s stage two being the most difficult day of racing to date in 2012, French team Europcar commented on their weekend, indicating mixed emotions.

Jonathan Tiernan-Locke (Endura Racing) took stage two and the overall Haut Var title in spectacular fashion, capitalizing on outstanding early season form and making the day’s final climb, with grades topping 25 percent, look very nearly easy.

Though Europcar director Dominique Arnould called Tiernan-Locke “better than everyone,” he brought up his team’s tactics as well as his riders’ fitness levels after the race.

Europcar entered Saturday’s stage one with both Thomas Voeckler and Pierre Rolland as protected riders, and Yukiya Arashiro was the designated sprinter should the flatter first stage come to it.  But Romain Hardy (Bretagne-Schuller) stole the stage out of a two-man breakaway and Voeckler was Europcar’s best placed, coming home sixth.

“We decided not to chase down the break because no one [in it] was threatening to us in the general classification,” Arnould said of Haut Var’s first stage.  “Our goal was to make the peloton react a little in the last 30 kilometers, and we succeeded.”

Still with cards to play on Sunday’s much harder, 205-kilometer stage, Europcar rode more aggressively on stage two.  Arashiro and Vincent Jérôme were involved in early breaks, and Rolland found his way into a six-man leading group later in the stage, but when everything came together in the finale, no one could do anything with Tiernan-Locke.

Voeckler, trying to defend his Haut Var title from last year, attacked the final climb’s first kick-up, but he soon faded as the climb became steeper.  Arnould knew that Tiernan-Locke was primed to continue the breakout season he started at the Tour of the Mediterranean, but the British rider could not be contained.

“We knew we had to isolate [Tiernan-Locke], but like everybody else, we weren’t able to carry it out,” Arnould explained.

After the successes of Voeckler and Rolland in the Tour de France last year, Arnould indicated that getting beaten handily by a rider they had targeted would be considered less than acceptable.

“[On Sunday] we rode the race that we set out to ride, but we came up against a rider who was stronger than us,” he admitted. 

“We’re going to have to go back to the drawing board and do some extra training sessions because many of our riders are short of competitive training.  [Today] we’ll go out for five hours.”


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