Thomas Voeckler about to take best Tour de France overall for Frenchman since Christophe Moreau in 2000
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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Thomas Voeckler about to take best Tour de France overall for Frenchman since Christophe Moreau in 2000

by Bjorn Haake at 4:42 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
Former top rider interviews current one after time trial

thomas voecklerThomas Voeckler held on to the yellow jersey in the 2011 Tour de France for ten days, but lost it with only two days remaining. His fourth place, which he can achieve tomorrow, is the best GC result for a Frenchman since Christophe Moreau in 2000, who was also fourth. Team Europcar can look back at an extremely successful Tour.

Moreau is retired but stays in cycling, working for French Eurosport. His question about Voeckler being the first Frenchman since Moreau to end the race in fourth place was inevitable. But Voeckler did not want to compare too much. "Of course I dreamed of doing better," he told Moreau. "I lost the podium yesterday [stage 19 - ed]." But the ever smiling Voeckler was not too disappointed. "When I look back in the future, when I am 50 years old and I am at the roadside [of the Tour] with my wife, I will remember that I was fourth and I'll tell myself that it wasn't so bad."

Voeckler came very close to not being on the team. After Bouygues Telecom stopped its commitment, a main sponsor was hard to find and Voeckler was close to looking for other options. Europcar jumped on board and Voeckler committed himself, as he liked the group of guys he was working with.

He has no regrets of staying with the smaller French squad. "After the finish I learned that Pierre Rolland had the white jersey," Voeckler said about his teammate winning the best young rider's competition. The team had not many expectations. "We came here without precise objective, except for not having regrets in Paris," Voeckler said.

There certainly won't be any regrets tomorrow in France's capital. "We were ten days in yellow, have the white jersey and won on Alpe d'Huez with Europcar." All this was accomplished with a small squad."We have to say that we aren't the best team in the world. But the guys fought hard and we are also fourth overall - it is really incredible."

For the second time in his career, after 2004, Voeckler defended a yellow jersey for ten days. This time he almost took it all the way to Paris, but it has taken its toll. "Physically I am ok, and following the best guys in the Alps wasn't too bad. But mentally I am at the ropes. All the pressure, and even the public behind me. It is nice, but also a big weight."

Voeckler is looking forward to a break, after a busy season. "I did a lot of racing since the beginning of the year, but now I think I will take a breather." His popularity will likely see him in a few post-Tour criteriums, so he may have to make it an active breather.

 

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