Bbox Bouygues Telecom team boss Jean-René Bernaudeau says he was "a bit disappointed" with an in-form Thomas Voeckler's bad luck in the 2010 Paris-Nice, but has expressed his immense satisfaction with the team's success throughout the race.
Bernaudeau’s disappointment stemmed not from his riders’ efforts, with which he said he was "hugely satisfied", but mostly from the ill-fortune that once again dogged Bbox leader Thomas Voeckler. The 30-year-old Frenchman crashed out of the 2009 'race to the sun' with a broken collarbone, and although nothing anywhere near that drastic befell him last week, his results barely told the story of how good his form was.
Fifth and first non-Spaniard at the summit finish in Mende on stage four, Voeckler’s hopes of a finish high in the top-10 disappeared the day after when he punctured 25 kilometres from the finish. Unfortunately for the Bbox leader, the incident occurred just as the yellow jersey group was being forced along by Ag2R-La Mondiale in strong cross-winds. Voeckler never saw the front group again.
On Saturday, he was the most persistent aggressor behind eventual stage-winner Xavier Tondo. And on Sunday's final stage into Nice, still in a rich vein of form, Voeckler tried his hand again by attacking with Cofidis’s Amael Moinard. Like Tondo the day before, the two Frenchmen managed to hold off counter-attacks from the yellow jersey group behind, only for Voeckler to misjudge the sprint and effectively lead Moinard out for the stage victory.
"The gap between Thomas and the peloton didn’t amount to much and it was for that reason that he decided to launch the sprint from a long way out. Clearly, Moinard profited from that. It’s a real pity but I congratulate Moinard. I think Thomas was the strongest, but that’s racing," said Bernaudeau, who went on to praise his team’s efforts during Paris-Nice.
"It’s been a beautiful week. We’ve proved that we’re a great team, that we’re better than last year. I’m really proud of the boys."
The stand-out performances were William Bonnet’s stage win in Limoges and 22-year-old Cyril Gautier’s impressive showing in the hills that raised him from 70th after the prologue to 18th overall in Nice. "I’m really happy for Cyril, he’s going to get a lot of confidence from this," said Bernaudeau, for whom this string of strong performances could not have come at a better time.
On the look-out for a sponsor to replace Bouygues Telecom at the end of this season, Bernaudeau revealed going into Paris-Nice that he has three meetings scheduled this month with prospective backers. From that point of view, Paris-Nice could not have gone much better for the French outfit.
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Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling. He is the author of The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races (Bloomsbury, March 2014) and has translated Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break (Bloomsbury, July 2014).