French hero promises to fight to the end
Thomas Voeckler's reign in the Tour de France's yellow jersey lasted ten days in 2004, but his current one will probably end on the third day. The former French champion admitted as much on the finishing line in Lavaur after stage 11.
He played down speculations by his team manager Jean-René Bernaudeau that the nice adventure could continue in the Pyrénées, in the same way that he maintained his lead at Plateau de Beille seven years ago.
"We all know Jean-René, he's naturally optimistic," Voeckler said. "With the situation on GC now, nothing plays in my favour. Contador is behind the other favourites, so he cannot just wait and see."
In 2004, Lance Armstrong was the boss of the bunch and it was in his interest to keep a young Frenchman in the lead as long as possible in order to soften the home crowds' behaviour towards him.
"I'll give everything but I expect to lose the yellow jersey," Voeckler said. Instructed by fans to deliver another exploit on Bastille Day, he answered: "Whether it's July 14 or not tomorrow, I have to remain lucid. Even before the GC riders attack in the mountains, it's hard for me to follow the rhythm. I'm not one of the world's strongest climbers but I don't want to bother. I'm just not convinced that a miracle can happen."
Stage 13 will take the riders to Lourdes, the Christian city of miracles, but Voeckler obviously doesn't believe it can happen to him.
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