Voeckler confident for Tour
Thomas Voeckler was forced to pull out of the French national championships this week but remains confident that he will be fit in time for the Tour de France, which starts on Saturday 30 June in Liege.
Team Europcar leader Voeckler pulled out of the Critérium du Dauphiné on the final stage after feeling some pain in his knee. A week later, on the Route du Sud race, the 32-year-old Frenchman was forced to withdraw during the final stage after suffering more discomfort in his right knee.
Voeckler has since had an MRI scan on the troublesome knee – and although he will now be forced to take a week's rest, last year's yellow jersey hero remains upbeat about his chances of turning out for the biggest race of the season.
"I am hopeful for the Tour," Voeckler told French newspaper Ouest France. "I have an inflammation of the iliotibial tract, that is to say, the outside of the knee. I have to take a week off from cycling."
Voeckler's enforced absence will see the Frenchman unable to compete in the national road championships this week, a title he won in 2004 and 2010.
"This is detrimental to the preparation for the Tour and that is disappointing, but I will be fresh – although not in top form because I will have only three days in the saddle to prepare my legs before the start of the race," Voeckler said.
Despite his knee injury, Voeckler still rode the Route de Sud with typical panache, attacking on the queen stage with team-mate Anthony Charteau. While Voeckler faded during a stage which included the legendary climbs of the Tourmalet and the Soulor, Charteau went on to take third place in the stage on a day which also saw Alexandre Pichot attack from the bunch.
Other promising performances during the Route du Sud came from the ever-active Jerome Cousin as well as Japanese rider Yukiya Arashiro, who attacked alongside Pichot during the final stage of the race.
With less than two weeks to go until the Tour, Team Europcar will hope that Voeckler's knee will heal itself before the eagerly anticipated Grand Depart. "We remain optimistic," said team manager Jean-René Bernaudeau.