Tour de France: Europcar suffering injuries in the team’s home region
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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Tour de France: Europcar suffering injuries in the team’s home region

by Ben Atkins at 8:32 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France, Injury
Vendée-based team concerned over conditon of Vincent Jérôme and Christophe Kern

christophe kernOne thing that was universally expected in this year’s Tour de France was that the Vendée-based Europcar team would be aggressive in the first few days of the race, as it started in its home region. Predictably, the very first rider to attack in the race – as soon as the flag had been dropped to commence hostilities – was Perrig Quémeneur, who spent the day in the breakaway.

Since then though, the green and black team has missed out on the successful attacks of the race; partly due to some of its riders suffering with injuries.

Tour debutant Vincent Jérôme was one of a number of riders to crash on the first stage and, while the team says he is recovering from his injuries, the 26-year-old from the Pays de la Loire, was dropped on the climb of the Pont de Saint-Nazaire; he had problems holding the pace of the peloton and finished in last place, 5’57” behind.

Jérôme is now firmly entrenched in the Lanterne Rouge position, some 19’08” behind yellow jersey Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervélo).

More of a worry for the team though is an injury to Christophe Kern. The French time trial champion is suffering from a “painful stabbing sensation” in his knee; he too was dropped on the Pont de Saint-Nazaire, but managed to finish safely in the peloton.

In 2009, while riding for Cofidis, Kern finished second on the stage to Andorra-Arcalis. He won the fifth stage of this year’s Critérium du Dauphiné in Les Gets, and would be expected to be one of the team’s key riders in the mountains.

"There's a bit of low morale within the team because Christophe is suffering with his knee, said Europcar manager Jean-René Bernaudeau. “We just hope it's not tendinitis. We're awaiting the report from the doctor.”

More optimistically for the team though, double stage winner Thomas Voeckler is in good form, constantly positioning himself at the front of the peloton on stage three, and the former French champion is aiming at the stage four finish on the Mûr-de-Bretagne.

"Thomas Voeckler is riding well, Cyril Gautier too. Pierre Rolland is in good condition," said Bernaudeau. “Tuesday's finale will be much harder than the Mont des Alouettes. Philippe Gilbert will be once again difficult to beat, but it will be our job to make sure the stage doesn't go to script and we put pressure on his Omega Pharma-Lotto team.”

Additionally, the team’s sprinter Sébastien Turgot took a promising twelfth place on stage three, despite being caught up in the chaos on the final corner.

"Two kilometres from the finish, Cyril Gautier guided me up through the peloton,” he explained. “I was well placed in the wheels of the big sprinters, but 600 metres from the finish [Quick Step’s Gert] Steegmans veered out to the right and cut me up. I was in his wheel and so was forced to practically stop dead. I built up speed again but I had already lost too much time.

“It was really, really disappointing,” he added

"Unfortunately Séb was forced to break at a point where slowing down was the last thing he needed to do,” confirmed Bernaudeau.


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