After finishing an aggressive 10th overall in the Criterium du Dauphiné, Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) is now setting his sights on the French championships, which take place in Boulogne-sur-Mer next weekend.
“I’ve taken a few days to rest before starting training again,” Voeckler told velochrono.fr. “I’m also taking siestas because I’m feeling a lot of fatigue after the last three big days of racing at the Dauphiné. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the stages were really difficult.”
With the tricolour jersey on his back and eight wins to his name since the start of the season, Voeckler will be strongly fancied to retain his title, but he insisted that the priority is simply to place a Europcar rider atop the podium.
“I’m not imagining myself as French champion for the second time in a row,” he said. “What I did last year in taking back the jersey was something I had been chasing every year since 2004. What counts is that the jersey stays at Europcar.”
Voeckler had planned to reconnoitre the course in Boulogne-sur-Mer in May but was something of a victim of his own success. Nonetheless, the Frenchman does not think it will impact unduly on his preparation for the race.
“I was meant to go the Saturday of the Four Days of Dunkirk, but I won that day and seeing as I had a lot of commitments after the stage, I had to cancel those plans…” he said.
“But frankly, reconnoitring a course in advance isn’t fundamental. I’ll arrive in Boulogne-sur-Mer two days in advance, and on the Friday I will choose my gears. I’ll ride the course, but the reconnaissance isn’t decisive.”
Voeckler has identified his former teammate Pierrick Fedrigo as the man to watch on Sunday week. To date, the FDJ rider has not made the expected impact at Marc Madiot’s squad, but with the Tour around the corner, Voeckler is sure that he will be competitive.
“It’s hard to pick one name, but I’d go with the winner on the same route in 2005, Pierrick Fedrigo,” Voeckler said. “I know him well, and even though he is gone to do the Route du Sud for his confidence, I know that he will be up there.”
For his part, Voeckler is refusing to feel pressure coming into the centrepiece of his season. After his rip-roaring start to the year, the Frenchman is taking a practical approach to the national championships and the Tour.
“My season doesn’t hinge on the French championships, I really take things one after the other,” he said. “It will be hard to retain my title, but I’m not thinking about it yet. I’ll think about the French championships and then the Tour. Everything in its own time.”