French champion Thomas Voeckler has added the eighth victory to his 2011 tally by winning the overall Four Days of Dunkirk, where he also took the decisive stage to Cassel on Saturday. The Europcar rider continues to lead the UCI Europe Tour rankings in what definitely is his strongest Spring season ever.
Voeckler played it smart at the start of the Four Days, targeting the overall classification without making it public. "When I came to the Quatre Jours de Dunkerque, I tried to make believe that I wasn't looking for anything in particular here. I love to do that, play it smart, and it worked. The press almost forgot about me," a radiant Voeckler told L'Equipe on Sunday evening.
"Ever since I was a kid, I followed this race, it has meaning to me. When I found out that I wasn't going to do the Giro, I immediately thought about the Quatre Jours, also because the pink leader's jersey is fashionable at this time of year..."
The 31-year-old netted his eighth season victory, making 2011 already a huge success by the month of May. "It's true, it's more of a sprinter's score! Already with the Tour Méditerranéen, the Tour du Haut Var and two stages in Paris-Nice, the balance was magnificent. Now, I continue on the same vein, I really can't complain. I've known less lucky times to know that you have to savour them when they are. So what happens to me today is worth even more."
It seems that the Frenchman has reached a peak in his career since his second Tour de France stage win and his first ProTour victory at the GP Québec at the end of last year. The confidence he gained has paid off in further victories. "The way I look at it, I have nothing more to prove. I simply ride for pleasure. Maybe that's how victories come about more easily," he mused.
With that many successes already on his palmarès this season, the current leader of the UCI Europe Tour standings looks forward to yet more racing and the season highlight for any Frenchman, the Tour de France.
"I have to stay calm; I won't change a lot in my approach for the Tour," he said. "The only difference will be in my head. The fact of having already won so many races allows me to take on the Tour feeling more serene. But it's not because I've already got eight races that my season is finished, there are still many beautiful events to win!"
Voeckler now has a small pause on his calendar and will be back to racing at the Tour of Bavaria from May 25-29, preparing for the Critérium du Dauphiné in early June - that is if his Europcar team is invited. But with Voeckler being in the form of his life, chances are race organiser ASO will give the French team a race entry.
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