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Thomas Voeckler (Team Europcar )
Frenchman becomes Classics contender after impressive showings
Following his victory of the Brabantse Pijl last Wednesday, and an eighth placing at the Tour of Flanders two weeks ago, Thomas Voeckler has again proved that he has become a true Classics contender by finishing fifth at Amstel Gold Race on Sunday. The Europcar rider was amongst the strongest men on the final climb of the Cauberg and now looks forward to racing Liège-Bastogne-Liège next weekend.
"I'm not overjoyed but I'm satisfied with my race," the Europcar rider told L'Equipe. "I was a little effected by Cunego's crash on the Cauberg. I didn't lose a lot of speed as I was able to pass him on the right, but I lost the slipstream of the first riders."
Even if a higher placing was possible, Voeckler was still happy with his first top five result at the Classic, which was the best result of a Frenchman since Laurent Roux's fifth placing in 1999. With nine kilometres to go, the 32-year-old attacked together with Peter Sagan (Liquigas), who later finished third. "To stand a chance, we should have been more than two, though. And then, with the headwind and thinking of the difficult finish, I didn't want to give everything. I held myself back, I raced a little against my nature," Voeckler admitted.
But this turned out to be a wise decision as the last attacker, Oscar Freire (Katusha), inevitably faded against the pressure of chasing riders. In the end, the victory was decided amongst the freshest and fastest riders in the run to the finish line. "At the foot of the Cauberg, I knew what I had to do: wait for the end of the climb to pull my card."
This week, Voeckler has returned to his family in the Vendée region in West France in roder to recover in view of Liège-Bastogne-Liège, where he should now be seen as one of the race's contenders. "Since Flanders, I've been making a lot of efforts," he said. "I need to do some active recuperation to do well in Liège. My form will not go away within a few days..."