Thomas Voeckler ready for the Tour de France after Route du Sud victory
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Monday, June 17, 2013

Thomas Voeckler ready for the Tour de France after Route du Sud victory

by Ben Atkins at 9:23 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
French hero recovered from Amstel collarbone break but Pierre Rolland will be Tour leader

thomas voecklerThomas Voeckler (Europcar) is declared ready for the Tour de France, following his victory in last week’s four-day Route du Sud. The former French champion won the queen stage of the race, which crossed the Port de Balès climb and descended into Bagnères-de Luchon in a repeat of his 2012 Tour stage win, and he comfortably managed to defend his four second lead over Franco Pellizotti (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela) on the final day.

"He is approaching the Tour in very good condition," confirmed Europcar directeur sportif Sébastien Joly. "His worries are behind him. He is serene and that is rubbing off on the whole team."

Voeckler’s season took a serious blow on April 14th as he fractured his collarbone in a crash during the Amstel Gold Race. He returned to racing on May 12th at the Rhône-Alpes Isère Tour, but two weeks later was brought down in a bizarre fashion during the first stage of the Tour of Belgium after his own bottle bounced out of its cage on a cobbled section and wedged itself between his bike frame and rear wheel.

Thankfully, he came out of the Belgian incident unharmed - although it quickly put paid to any overall ambitions he might have had in the race - and, following a stage victory at the Critérium du Dauphiné at the beginning of this month, his collarbone injury is now in the past.

“It's okay. The surgeon did a very good job, Voeckler told rmcsport.fr after his Route du Sud victory. “I had exactly the same fracture at Paris-Nice in 2009. I was really upset because of the objectives that I had, but it is relative, it is not a very serious injury. This is very common in cycling crashes, but it is debilitating.

With just his national championships between Voeckler and the Tour de France, the eyes of France will be on the Frenchman in Corsica on June 29th. Although he finished fourth in the 2011 edition - having been in the Maillot Jaune until three days before the finish - and won the polka-dot mountains jersey in last year’s edition, he will not be Team Europcar’s leader this year.

“It’s clear, for the general classification the leader is Pierre Rolland,” Voeckler explained to rmcsport.fr. “He finished eighth and tenth in the last two years at the Tour.”

Instead of aiming for a high overall finish, Voeckler himself will be reverting to type and likely to figure prominently in the race’s breakaways.

“As for me, I'll be more of a free electron,” he confirmed. “I think I have done everything I am capable of at the Tour de France. I do not have a stated goal but I’m not ruling anything out either.”

To this end, Voeckler will likely be one of the more aggressive riders during the race’s three days on the island of Corsica, hunting a stage victory, or even a few days in yellow. Once the race hits mainland France, however, he may well deliberately lose some time, in order that he is deemed non-threatening enough to be able to get away from the peloton. This done, the flamboyant French rider will likely chase more stages and probably mount a defence of his polka-dot jersey crown.

Rolland is coming to the end of an eight-day rest, imposed on him by the rules of the Movement for Credible Cycling (MPCC) following detected low levels of Cortisol at the Dauphiné. The rest is a health measure, and not an anti-doping one, so there will be nothing to prevent Rolland from lining up in Corsica at the head of the Europcar team.

As well as Rolland and Voeckler, Canadian Dauphiné stage winner David Veilleux and Frenchman Cyril Gautier have been confirmed as being part of the French team’s nine-man roster, with the other five to be confirmed.

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