Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) had intended to start his season racing in Adelaide at the Tour Down Under but after breaking his collarbone just hours after he landed in Australia, the former French champion was forced to fly home. Voeckler had targeted the Volta ao Algarve as his return to racing but as healed better than expected allowing him instead to make his 2014 racing debut at the Tour Méditerranéen Cycliste Professionnel.
John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) won his first race of the year in a sprint finish as Voeckler crossed the line almost 7 minutes behind in 138th place.
"I struggled more than expected. I had not expected that there would be wind [so] I struggled more than expected, the advantage is that I can only get better," he told L'Equipe.
Voeckler's early season aims remain the Ardennes hoping for a good a week after last year's disappointment. Voeckler crashed out during the Amstel Gold Race but made a swift return to racing. Voeckler told Cyclingnews after breaking his collarbone in Australia that there was no obligation to return to racing in any haste. The Volta ao Algarve begins on February 19 in Faro with a 160km stage to Albufeira.
On the eve of the Tour Méditerranéen, Voeckler explained his objectives for the French event. "I'm here to race again, I will not take any risks, I especially want to get miles into my legs," he said.