Voeckler forced out as Rolland shines
Thomas Voeckler was forced to abandon the Critérium du Dauphiné on its final stage on Sunday after sustaining an injury to his right knee.
On the brighter side, Pierre Rolland was part of an audacious break in stage seven which almost lasted the distance.
Voeckler threw in the towel after 28km of the undulating 124.5km stage seven from Morzine to Chatel. The two-time French national champion had been part of Saturday's main break on the queen stage to Morzine but was suffering from pain in his right knee.
"Thomas has been weakened by a problem with his right knee. It's a muscular problem and not as a result of a knock or a crash," confirmed directeur sportif Andy Flicklinger.
Voeckler, who nevertheless seemed fine at the start of the stage, was 45th in the GC, 16:32 down on overnight leader Bradley Wiggins.
In the absence of the team leader, Europcar still had another day to remember with last year's Tour de France white jersey, Rolland, riding out in front of the peloton for over 80 kilometres.
Rolland was first part of an eight-man breakaway that broke clear just after the 40km-mark on a short final stage that featured five categorised climbs including the Cat.1 Col du Corbier.
Rolland then joined forces with Jerome Coppel (Saur-Sojasun) and Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM) but the trio were reeled in with just 2.5km remaining after some hard work on the front of the pack by the BMC team of Cadel Evans.
The stage was won by Spaniard Dani Moreno (Katusha), who took his second scalp of the race after pipping compatriot Luis Leon Sanchez (Rabobank) and Australia's Evans. Britain's Wiggins (Team Sky) crossed the line safely in 19th place to secure his second successive Dauphiné title.
"The team has been on the attack all week but we were not rewarded for our efforts. We have nevertheless worked very hard and I am satisfied with the behaviour of the guys," said Flicklinger.
Rolland finished the race in 21st place in the overall standings, just under 10 minutes slower than Wiggins. Cyril Gautier took a solid 36th place, 17:22 down, as the team's preparations for the Tour de France continue in earnest.
Rolland's final-stage attack – his second in as many days – was not the only notable moment for Team Sky on Sunday.
Anthony Charteau, who had been quiet for most of the week as he went about fine-tuning his own form, did his part in helping to chase down a trio of riders – stage six winner Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Movistar), Tiago Machado (RadioShack) et Mikael Cherel (Ag2r-La Mondiale) – inside the closing 25 kilometres.
Charteau was rewarded with a solid 14th place at the finish in Chatel for his efforts and looks to be in fine fettle ahead of the Tour, which starts in Liege on 30th June.
Flicklinger was quick to reassure the media that Voeckler's withdrawal was merely precautionary and that his participation in the Grande Boucle was not in threat.
"Thomas's injury is not a concern. He noticed there was a slight twinge in his right knee during yesterday's stage to Morzine and he simply didn't want to take any risks."