French champion has five wins in 2011
Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) continued his fine early-season form with victory at Cholet-Pays de Loire on Sunday. The Frenchman attacked in the finale to hold off a speeding peloton, but after the finish he was keen to keep his performance in context.
“Things need to be put in perspective,” Voeckler told L’Équipe. “I didn’t attack on the Poggio. Even though I’m very happy to win, this isn’t Milan-San Remo.”
Voeckler and his Europcar team failed to secure a ProTeam licence for 2011 and were not invited to Saturday’s Italian classic. However, the French champion is currently leading the Europe Tour standings, and consolidated his lead with Sunday’s victory.
His winning move came just three kilometres from the end, and he explained afterwards that his tactics had been pre-determined.
“I can hold on for three kilometres, not for ten,” he said. “When I won in Plouay (in 2007), I attacked 2.8km from the end. So I had the idea in the back of my head. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t…”
Cholet-Pays de Loire marked Voeckler’s fifth win of the current campaign, and came hot on the heels of his two stage victories at Paris-Nice. After a truncated winter of training following his part in attracting Europcar to replace Bouygues Telecom as sponsor, Voeckler admitted to being somewhat surprised by his string of spring successes but acknowledged that his base fitness from 2010 was already high.
“I’m winning races. Without doubt, I have a reserve [of fitness] thanks to the seasons coming so close together,” he said. “It means less pressure too.”