Voeckler expects teammates to step up in 2010
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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Voeckler expects teammates to step up in 2010

by Ben Atkins at 9:35 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling

Bbox-Bouyges Telecom’s Thomas Voeckler has been one of France’s top-ranked riders for several years. A stage victory in the Tour de France as well as wins in the Etoile de Bessèges, Tour du Haut Var and the Trophée des Grimpeurs made 2009 the 30-year-old’s best season to date; perhaps finally living up to the ten days he spent in the Tour’s yellow jersey and overall 18th place in 2004.

In an interview with French Eurosport, Voeckler spoke about his expectations, for both himself and his team, for the coming season.

“I'm not especially advanced,” he said of his racing condition. “I had a fall during training [when he broke a bone in his hand], a bit of flu and a bit of gastric trouble. Nothing dramatic, but these are small things that mean I still have a lot of work to do.

“Compared to last year, I will probably not have the condition that enabled me to win Bessèges and the Tour du Haut Var; I tell myself that I will have better legs a little later. The first race that’s really important for the team is Paris-Nice [on March 7th to 14th] so I hope to be in optimum condition by that time."

Voeckler was the team’s star rider, along with Pierrick Fedrigo, last year. With Bbox-Bouyges Telecom pulling out at the end of the year, the team will be looking for similar or better this time around in order to attact a new sponsor.

“Last year's victories at Bessèges and especially in Haut Var gave me confidence,” he said, “but when the new year begins, the counters are reset to zero. We can say that the team achieved its best season last year.”

With very little transfer activity in or out of the Bbox-Bouyges Telecom team, Voekler and Fedrigo should be the team’s stars again, particularly with the sidelining of new signing Nicolas Vogondy with heart problems. While acknowledging this fact, Voeckler expects other riders to move up a level and get results too.

“The team has not been messed up,” said the 2004 French champion, “and as it worked in 2009 there were not necessarily any reasons why it should be. The only downside that I could put it last year was as the year before: the team's results were based mainly on the shoulders of Pierrick and me. We need riders who relieve us a little. This year, I’ll count a lot on riders like Cyril [Gautier] and Pierre [Rolland], who in my opinion are very strong riders. William Bonnet was twice second in the Vuelta, it would not take much more for him to win."

Since turning professional with Bonjour at the end of 2000, Voeckler has stayed with Jean-René Bernadeau’s team throughout his career, as it changed to Brioches la Boulangère and then Bouyges Telecom. The 30-year-old sees no reason why he should change that, unless he has to.

“For my part, it has always gone well with him,” he said. “I’ve evolved into a very good rider and I do not think he had reason to complain to me. I'm not saying I wouldn’t like to see anything else before the end of my career but I wouldn’t change for change’s sake.”

With the team searching for a new sponsor though, Voeckler’s hand might be forced if it does not manage to find one soon. ”It is certain that we will need some certainty for the future of the team before the Tour de France,” he said. “If it [the team] won’t be able to continue, I won’t wait until October to find a new destination. But if the future of the team is assured, as expected, and if we find common ground, there is no reason why I’d change.”


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