Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) is adamant that his philosophy will not change ahead of the 2012 Tour de France in spite of his surprising fourth place finish in the race last July. The Frenchman explained that he is determined to be competitive throughout the season and noted that the Tour’s increased time trial mileage will not unduly alter his approach.
“It’s true that the time trialling has increased, so maybe I’ll have to work a bit more on it than in the last few years,” Voeckler said at the route presentation in Paris. “That said, I think it would be a mistake if I changed my cycling philosophy too much. My philosophy is to race the season in its entirety.
“I love cycling in general and not just the Tour de France, so I’m not going to focus my year on the Tour de France under the pretext that there are two time trials, and just cross off the other races.”
Voeckler wore the yellow jersey for ten days during this year’s Tour, and only ceded the overall lead two days from Paris. In spite of that stirring showing, the 32-year-old admitted that a repeat performance would be a big ask.
“I don’t know if ambition is the word to use, but I’ll certainly go with more confidence,” he said. “It would be a bit out of place really for me to aim for the podium or something. To be honest, to come fourth in the Tour was extraordinary, I didn’t think I was capable.
“I had never finished in the top ten of a grand tour in my career before, so I’m keeping things in perspective. I’m motivated to do the best placing I can in the general classification but I won’t be in a depression if I’m not in the top ten in Paris.”
A by-product of Voeckler’s show of defiance in yellow at the 2011 Tour is that he will be kept on a far tighter leash by the overall contenders and may struggle to infiltrate breaks with the same abandon as before.
“It’s true that I risk being more heavily marked and won’t benefit from the same freedom as before,” Voeckler admitted. “Still, if you’re being watched, it means that you have the level of someone who can do something, so you just have to adapt.”
Despite the surfeit of time trialling, Voeckler declared himself pleased with the route of the 2012 Tour, which sees a number of rolling stage well-suited to puncheurs such as himself. “The route is clearly varied and lot of stages have traps. There’s room for every kind of rider on a parcours like this,” he pointed out.
With a number of new climbs and finishes on the menu, Voeckler is set to break with the habit of a career and reconnoitre parts of the Tour route during the first half of next season.
“There are passages that we’ll need to look at, like the Planche des Belles Filles. You don’t want to do a final climb like that without having seen it before,” he said.
“If I had known that I was going to end up riding for a place on the GC this year, I would have gone to see the finale of some stages, that’s for sure. Now, I want to go and see some places on the parcours where there could be pitfalls, but without changing my approach to the season.
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