Thomas Voeckler’s Tour de France participation could be in doubt after the Europcar rider was forced to abandon the Route du Sud on the slopes of the Col du Soulor on Saturday, citing an inflammation of his right knee.
The same injury had already seen Voeckler withdrew from the Critérium du Dauphiné on its final stage the previous weekend, and with just two weeks to go to the Tour de France, the Frenchman faces a race against time to prove his fitness to compete.
Fourth in the Tour last year, Voeckler enjoyed a solid classics campaign and was looking to use the Dauphiné and Route du Sud to fine-tune his climbing form ahead of July. Although he had spent much of Saturday’s mountain stage in the leading group, however, Voeckler had to give best to his injury three kilometres from the summit of the Soulor.
“I wasn’t able to pedal anymore,” Voeckler told L’Équipe. “These aren’t the best moments of my career but there’s nothing to do, the pain is too much. I have to admit that I’m waiting to see what happens a bit. I’ve just spoken with the team doctor and we’re going to see what decisions are to be taken over the course of the next week.”
Even if he does make it to the start in Liège on June 30, Voeckler hinted that his disrupted preparation would have a major impact on his performance.
“It’s clear that with two weeks to go to the Tour, the state of my knee could be a worry,” he said. “I prefer to wait before taking a decision. If I have the fortune to be at the start, I’m afraid that it mightn’t be a Tour like the others.”
In spite of his abandon at the Dauphiné last week, Voeckler was adamant that he would line up at the Route du Sud in order to test himself further. “I preferred to go into a race situation and see how the pain developed rather than just train at home,” he explained on Saturday.
That plan may have backfired, for Voeckler has now been advised to take a week off the bike completely in order to assist his recovery. Thus, he joins the long list of potential Tour protagonists who will not race in the national championships next weekend.
“He will have to observe a complete week of rest, and we’ll advise him according to the tests we make,” said team doctor Hubert Long.
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