Ahead of Friday's Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec, French cyclist Thomas Voeckler has remained rather low-key when answering questions about his objectives for the race he won in 2010. "I've come to this race with the same motivation as in the Hamburg Cyclassics - no more, no less," Voeckler told L'Equipe on the eve of the race.
Asked whether he considered the two Canadian races more as preparation for the World Championships in Valkenburg in two weeks, he was just as enigmatic. "There are similarities between this parcours and the one in Valkenburg," he admitted. "Especially looking at the percentages of the climbs and the positioning the course requires, but my head is here now. Everything in its due time."
The demanding circuit course in downtown Québec city includes a total of 3,000 vertical metres to climb. Even if these are divided into a series of short but sharp climbs, the end of the 201km-long race will be a selective one.
"In the airplane, I looked around to see who was there," Voeckler told Canadian newspaper La Presse. "There's Peter Sagan, who I believe has the effect of a scarecrow on everyone. I think he and Luis Leon Sanchez are really the two riders [to count on]. But it's not my habit to observe any riders, I don't mark any of them. I just try to feel the race and then, it's all up to my legs."
Voeckler will have a strong team around him in Québec, but the Europcar team leader was still adamant that he would not necessarily be the center of attention of his squad. His teammate and Quebec native David Veilleux has just won the Tre Valli Varesine, "one of the most beautiful races in Italy," Voeckler continued. "He's made a giant leap in his career, so it's clear that he will be one of the pillars of the team here. He's not a domestique anymore."