Having won Tour de France stages in Bagnères-de-Luchon in 2010 and 2012, you might have expected French housewives' favourite Thomas Voeckler to keep the pattern going and to have won again in 2014 when the 16th stage again finished in the Pyrenean spa town on Tuesday.
Alas, the Europcar star did everything he could, but had to settle for second place in the end, leading home Sky's Vasili Kiryienka, José Serpa (Lampre-Merida) and Europcar teammate Cyril Gautier in a group that finished nine seconds behind stage winner Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo).
"It's a big disappointment not to have been able to win," said Voeckler, "as I'd this stage in mind as somewhere where I could do something again ever since the route was unveiled last year. Perhaps some people would be pleased with second place on a Tour stage, but that's not the case for me."
The fact that, with Gautier, Europcar had the advantage of having two riders in the five-man break made it all-the-more tough to take.
"When Rogers attacked on the descent into Luchon, Cyril wasn't able to hold his wheel, and I wasn't in the right place to chase," said Voeckler.
For his part, Gautier shouldered some of the blame, but was clearly as disappointed as his team-mate.
"Rogers was strong, and I just couldn't get on his wheel, as my legs were still quite heavy from having been dropped on the final climb [the Port de Balès] with Kiryienka, and then getting back to the other three.
"It was also perhaps a bit of a lack of communication between Thomas and me," continued Gautier. "I should have asked him what he wanted to do – whether we should have waited for the sprint, or whatever, so maybe it was an error on my part not to have talked to Thomas. When there are two of you from the same team in a group of five, you ought to win."
Despite their disappointment, expect Europcar to use it as a good excuse to go on the attack again in the next two stages in the Pyrenees.
"Since the start of the Tour, I haven't done too much," admitted Voeckler, "but I was able to have a go today [Tuesday]. It didn't work out, but I enjoyed it nevertheless. However, second place... I am really quite disappointed."
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