By his own admission, Bouygues Telecom's Thomas Voeckler has not had a great season so far. The 25-year-old Frenchman shot to fame when he wore the yellow jersey in last year's Tour de France, and captured hearts worldwide as he battled to hang on to it when the race hit the mountains.
It's happened in the past that riders have shone in yellow and slipped back into obscurity afterwards. Voeckler seems determined not to let that happen to him, but to demonstrate that last year's stint in yellow was no fluke, he needs results. So far, they have been slow in coming.
"I am really not satisfied," Voeckler told l'Equipe. "My results are not at the moment at the high level I'd hoped for. More than ever before, people are expecting a lot of me this season. I did not do too badly at Het Volk and GP E3 Harelbeck and I was even among the protagonists, but the Tour of Flanders was a real disappointment. I had to abandon."
Voeckler acquitted himself competently at the year's first stage race, Paris-Nice, but even that's no consolation. "I would have liked to strike a blow. It's always better to win a stage than to finish 18th on general classification. I hope that will come, but I am just not the guy for the early season."
Voeckler will ride Paris-Roubaix this weekend. He acknowledges it's place in cycling's mythology, but it's not a race where he expects to perform at his best. "This race is part of the heritage of cycling. I have a lot of respect for the racers that have shone in Paris-Roubaix. For my part I go there with a lot of hunger, with the intention of making a good showing. The one thing that scares me is the rain, though. I am not one of the acrobats of the pave."
Voeckler intends to hang in there till the first sections of pave and then try and escape from the peloton with the contenders, but admits, "I a race like this, I am not able to figure in the finale. I do not have enough "oomph" to follow a rider such as Tom Boonen. He is younger than me but stronger."