Fresh from overall victory at the Tour du Haut Var, Thomas Voeckler’s (Europcar) next objective on home roads is Paris-Nice, but the Frenchman has admitted that the race’s stage six time trial means that his ambitions for the general classification are limited.
“I think it’s one of the few stage races where I’m capable of doing well overall, like a lot of riders,” Voeckler told Velochrono.fr. “But when I saw that they’d put in a time trial, I admit that I was disappointed because I’m not a specialist. Sure, I have a time trial bike at home and I try to work on it, but over 27km, it’s going to be hard not be a long way down on the general classification.”
Nonetheless, the French champion will arrive at the Race to the Sun intent on making an impression and he has promised to be aggressive throughout the week as he goes in search of stage victories.
“Let’s say that Paris-Nice isn’t complicated… and yet very complicated at the same time,” he joked. “It’s not very long and you can’t allow yourself to be calculating. The advantage is that, in general, there are a maximum of two stages that end in sprints, so you don’t have to say ‘I’ll wait until Saturday and do a good stage down south.’
“If you have the condition, you have to take advantage of it every day.”
Indeed, racing every day is something that Voeckler and his Europcar teammates have been instructed to do by their manager Jean-René Bernaudeau. The team failed to win a ProTeam licence for 2011 and with the qualifying criteria for next year’s licences as yet unclear, the Vendée-based squad is leaving nothing to chance.
“Like many French teams, we’re ProContinental and we want to earn a ticket to the first division,” Voeckler explained. “The concern is that nobody knows how the classification is drawn up… We don’t really know the parameters.
“Jean-René Bernaudeau’s instruction this winter was to try and do the maximum on all races, not to let any one pass us by. Don’t take anything for granted and try and ‘do the max’ everywhere, that’s all.”
Voeckler has already put Bernaudeau’s philosophy into action with victory on stage one of the Tour Méditerranéen and his win in Haut Var, in spite of a truncated winter of training. The Frenchman is hoping to replicate those displays at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad this weekend, and he is very enthusiastic about racing on the cobbles.
“I really love the races in Flanders,” he said. “For me they’re the most beautiful races in cycling. Not every team can go there and so it’s with pleasure that I’ll go there and take part.
“I’d really like to do something in one of those beautiful classics some day, but it’s very hard… Beyond the physical, there’s the question of knowing the terrain, that’s hugely important. I’m trying, but for the moment, there haven’t been any miracles…”