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Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) on the podium
Targets Canadian WorldTour races to gauge form
Even if French team selector Laurent Jalabert has not yet officially announced the line-up for the Limburg Worlds later this month, L'Equipe has already alleged that Thomas Voeckler will be the leader of the nine-man squad, with Sylvain Chavanel an additional card to play depending on race circumstances. Reportedly, Voeckler has asked Jalabert to nominate his Europcar teammates Yohann Gène and Vincent Jérôme into the national squad for his support.
The 33-year-old, who won two stages of the Tour de France this year as well as the overall best climber's jersey, returned to serious racing on August 18 in Italy. He rode at the Tre Valli Varesine, helping teammate David Veilleux win the race, before finishing ninth in the chase group. He then completed the Tour du Poitou-Charentes stage race in France, finishing a close second on the final stage.
Voeckler's next goals are the GP Québec on September 7 and the GP Montréal in Canada on September 9. Voeckler won the GP de Québec in 2010. These UCI WorldTour races will give him confirmation of his fitness a few weeks ahead of the World Championships road race on Sunday, September 23.
"The two Canadian races will give me a clear indication of my form. I've got a plan in my head and hope it all comes together," he said in a recent interview on the website of Colnago, the team's bike supplier.
The parcours of the event held in and around Valkenburg could suit him well, but the Frenchman was still cautious about his chances for success. "Even if I was fifth in the Amstel Gold race [on the same roads as the Worlds road race - ed.], it doesn't mean anything. There will be at least 100 riders looking to win. But I won't go to the world championships to attack a long way out like I've often done in other races. I'm ready to change my way of racing to win that race.
The Frenchman has stayed at home with his family for much of the time since the Tour de France, riding 'only' five criteriums. "Other riders in my situation would have taken more advantage but I didn't want to tire myself out," Voeckler pointed out.
"I know that it's probably 99 percent sure that my career will end without me ever pulling on the rainbow jersey but I also know that if I don't give it everything to try, I'll never know if I'm able to turn that one percent into success," he added.