Tour Guide Flashback – Europcar Team Pages (2011)
RIDE Media has produced the official Tour de France Guide (Australian edition) since 2003. The 2012 edition will be on sale mid-June. During the production period, we will be looking back at certain features from over the years.
In this flashback we look at the commentary on the Europcar team from the 2011 Tour preview.
Flashback: 2011 – Europcar Team Pages
Can Voeckler turn green into polka-dot this year?
There are few more plucky riders than Thomas Voeckler. He is so insistent that it’s impossible to ignore him. There’s a touch of the ‘Virenque’ about how this 31-year-old races; it must annoy others in the peloton but he gets good value for his sponsors. At the top of a climb, he’s strong enough to sneak up near the GC hitters and tenacious enough to wrestle his bike ahead in the hope of grabbing a few points for the polka-dot jersey. In 2008 he finished the Tour fourth in the climber’s classification (later elevated to third because of Kohl’s cheating ways)… and surely he dreams of a coup that would earn him a place on the podium in Paris. But the changes to the rules don’t augur well for him. That doesn’t mean he’ll alter his tactics though…
One thing is certain come July: Voeckler will attack. This is how it’s been every year since 2004 when he first earned true global exposure with his energy. He ended that race in 18th place but it was the days he spent in yellow that changed him forever. Now he understands the business of cycling well. If you’re popular, then you can also be well paid.
After the time trial on the penultimate day of the Tour last year, he gave interviews on the finishing straight to French TV and radio networks for 45 minutes. Then he walked over to the written media troops and talked for another 30 minutes.
While others gasp a few lines and speed off, Voeckler takes the time to explain the stage and answer every question. This doesn’t mean he’ll win the Tour de France but it does say a lot about the character of the guy. After three weeks on Tour it’s easy to lose some spirit – but not Thomas. He’ll attack on the flat, try to dance on the climbs, talk until he’s dry in the mouth, and do it all with a smile on his face.
This is the biggest show in cycling, it’s a privilege to be part of it and the attitude of this team reflects that. Voeckler is now an elder statesman but he represents whatever brand it is that Jean-René Bernaudeau’s team is named after, and he does so with panache. It’s an attitude that rubs off on his peers and that’s why he earns such special attention in a preview of what we can expect from Europcar at the Tour in 2011.
This is one of the four French wildcard recipients. It has a strong connection with the region that hosts the grand départ and, if the reception Voeckler and his cohorts received at the start in 2005 is any indication, the biggest cheers at the team presentation will be for the boys in green.
Many riders will want to have a good start to the Tour and the lack of a time trial on day one opens things up. A yellow jersey is on offer and even an escape artist can achieve that if he goes about things the right way. There are men from Europcar who could last the distance and still sprint up the Mont des Alouettes. Voeckler perhaps, or Pierre Rolland, Cyril Gautier, or last year’s King of the Mountains Anthony Charteau… why not Giovanni Bernaudeau for the perfect gift for dad?
by Rob Arnold