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Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) wins alone in Nice
French champion happy with Europcar captaincy
“I thought I was too old for racing this way but this is the kind of bike racing I am,” a delighted Voeckler said after winning the final stage in Nice on Sunday with an audacious attack on the descent to the finish.
Last year he lost the final stage at Paris-Nice in a two-rider sprint against fellow Frenchman Amaël Moinard but insisted there was no feeling of revenge.
“It wasn’t revenge for 2010. Moinard was smarter than me that day. For a long time I’ve felt bitter about missing the opportunity to get my first ever stage win at Paris-Nice but not now,” Voeckler said.
“To be honest yesterday, my moral was affected by the crashes, notably the one of Martijn Maaskant, who wasn’t moving at all when he was on the ground. As I’d already got a stage win at Paris-Nice on Wednesday, I wasn’t ready to put my life and my career in danger today but it’s always worth taking risks when the victory is a possibility. I didn’t expect I would be able to do what I did today.”
Great start to the season
The Europcar rider is having his best early start to the season, with two stage wins at Paris-Nice following on from victory on the first stage at the Tour of the Mediterranean and overall victory at the Tour of Haut-Var. As national champion, he is now the best known and most cheered rider in France.
“I give 100% of myself for my job. But I’m logical too and never get too ambitions. I know that I won’t be able to drop Andy Schleck at the top of the Tourmalet for example,” Voeckler explained.
“Next week I’ll be going to Belgium to ride the GP E3 Harelbeke, maybe Ghent-Wevelgem, and then the Tour of Flanders. Although I’ve never shined much on those roads except a fourth place at GP E3. But I know the risks of the Flemish classics: a crash there can ruin the rest of the season, but I love doing those races.”
Leader at Europcar
Voeckler has assumed the role of captain at the Europcar team after the departure of Pierrick Fedrigo to FDJ.
The French national champion knows that the former Bbox Bouygues Telecom team isn’t as strong as in the past but he’s ready for the responsibility of being the team’s only big-name leader. He’s often seen as the savoir of the French Professional Continental squad after he played a key role in convincing the car rental company to take over sponsorship last October.
“I’ve been surprised by the media impact of my decision to wait as long as I could for a new sponsor to come in,” Voeckler admitted.
“I’ve heard several times that other riders or athletes from other sports would have never put the team’s interest ahead of their personal interest but I was in a situation to do it. My career wasn’t in danger.”
“The teams I was talking to were very respectful and understanding of my choice to wait and give priority to my current team, also because they would like their riders to be equally as faithful. But I’m not the only one who remained faithful. The whole team has acted as a block. I was the most important piece of the puzzle but not the only one.”