The right knee of Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) is arguably the most famous body joint in France right now: In Google News, the sole word "genou" (French for knee) makes articles about Voeckler come up heading the list of results. Every day, a whole nation hopes that the national hero - who finished fourth in last year's Tour de France - will be able to continue the race despite the inflammation which has made his life difficult in recent weeks.
"It's not getting any better, but not any worse, either," Voeckler told L'Equipe on Thursday evening after stage five. "I continue to take one day at a time."
Without dramatizing his condition, the Frenchman still asks himself how long he'll be able to hold on in the race, and at what price. "In the bunch, there are guys that are torn up everywhere, so I shouldn't be pitied. Sitting down, it's okay even though I can't push in the same way with my two legs. But I can't get out of the saddle. I don't want to abandon the race at the moment. But I have to be reasonable. Last year, Christophe Kern wanted to keep on during many long days and then he had to cross out several months of the 2011 season."
In these circumstances, not getting selected by Laurent Jalabert for the Olympic Games was not very surprising. "That's the way it is, you have to accept it. I can understand that he can't count on me in the light of the situation. Of course, I would have preferred to compete in the Olympics, because they are probably the last ones I could have done. In four years, I think and I hope that there will be young riders to take my place," the 33-year-old added.