Rolland is Europcar's Tour leader, says Voeckler

In spite of a Route du Sud victory capped by a stage win over the Port de Balès, Thomas Voeckler has insisted that Pierre Rolland will lead his Europcar team at the Tour de France.

Fourth overall in 2011 and winner of the king of the mountains last year, Voeckler has also won four Tour de France stages and spent twenty days in the yellow jersey during his career, and said that he would have a free role in Europcar’s line-up.

“It’s clear that for the general classification, the leader is Pierre Rolland as he’s finished eighth and tenth in the last two Tours,” Voeckler told RMC. “As for me, I’ll have a free role. I think I’ve achieved everything within my capabilities at the Tour de France. I don’t have a fixed objective but I’m not ruling anything out either.”

Rolland’s Tour build-up has been a troubled one however, and the Frenchman had to hand his racing licence back for eight days after he recorded abnormally low levels of cortisol in additional testing carried out by the MPCC (Movement for Credible Cycling) during the Critérium du Dauphiné. The MPCC’s tests for cortisol have been designed to combat the use of cortisone in the professional peloton.

“I’ve taken the stance of not speaking about it, I’ve stayed focused on myself and that hasn’t gone badly for me this week,” Voeckler told RTL-L’Équipe when asked about the Rolland affair.

Voeckler’s own approach to July has not been without its problems, as he suffered a broken collarbone in a crash at Amstel Gold Race. Stage victory at the Critérium du Dauphiné and the overall win at the Route du Sud were an indication that his form is headed in the right direction ahead of the Tour.

“Just because things have gone well at the Dauphiné or the Route du Sud doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll go well in July,” Voeckler warned. “But in terms of morale, it’s done me a lot of good because I’ve really been missing a bit of success since the start of the year.”

Voeckler’s Route du Sud victory is a timely one for his Europcar team, which was criticised for its failure to withdraw Rolland from the Dauphiné immediately, as per MPCC protocol. The French team is also on the hunt for a new sponsor, given that Europcar’s contract expires at the end of the year.

For his part, Voeckler was pleased simply to have triumphed in his happy hunting ground of the Pyrenees. He all but sealed the polka dot jersey at last year’s Tour by winning into Bagnères-de-Luchon and his Route du Sud stage victory arrived in the same town.

“The majority of Pyrenean cols are around 10 kilometres long, apart from the Tourmalet and the Aubisque,” Voeckler told RMC. “I really like these short and repetitive efforts. I’ve ridden on these roads since I was young and I don’t need any particular reconnaissance.”

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