Voeckler wins French Vélo d'Or award
Thomas Voeckler has been voted the French Vélo d'Or for the third consecutive year in a poll of cycling journalists set up by the publication Vélo Magazine. Voeckler beat FDJ-BigMat pair Arnaud Démare and Thibaut Pinot after yet another brilliant season in the saddle.
It was never going to go any other way. Just as he won the famous gong in 2010 and 2011, Thomas Voeckler this week received the Vélo d'Or for best French rider in 2012 having left his mark on another season filled with wins, accomplishments and brave riding.
The highlight of Voeckler's season was clearly the Tour de France, in which the 33-year-old recovered from a knee injury to win two gruelling mountain stages (at Bellegarde-sur-Valserine in the Alps and Bagneres-de-Luchon in the Pyrenees) as well as the polka dot jersey as King of the Mountains.
But the Europcar team leader's light also shone bright in the spring classics: victory in the Brabantse Pijl was followed by fourth place in Liege-Bastogne-Liege, fifth place in the Amstel Gold and eighth in the Tour of Flanders. Voeckler also finished fifth in the Four Days of Dunkirk and won a stage in the Tropicale Amissa Bongo race.
To cap a fine season off, Voeckler was the best-placed French rider in the world championships road race in Limberg, finishing seventh after Philippe Gilbert's winning ride up the Cauberg.
Voeckler's consistency throughout the season was unparalleled by any other male French rider. Julie Bresset, who won the cross-country mountain bike Olympic gold medal in London 2012, was second in the magazine poll, while FDJ-BigMat pair Arnaud Démare and Thibaut Pinot were tied for third. Track cyclist Grégory Baugé, winner of two Olympic silver medals, was voted in fifth place.
Voeckler's third consecutive Vélo d'Or award sees him edge closer to the overall record set by mountain biker Julien Absalon, who came out on top of the poll for four successive years between 2004 and 2007.
But despite finishing fourth in the 2011 Tour de France, Voeckler this week ruled out improving on his record highest finish in the Grande Boucle. "Unless the situation of the race allows it, it's too complicated to finish on the podium of the Tour riding the way I do," he told L'Equipe.
Voeckler also hinted that he would focus on the spring classics in 2013 after his string of solid performances in 2012. "Before this season, I'd never prepared for the classics in the same way," he said. "I did it because I felt that right now, I have the level to play a real role there. It was the first time in my career that I was so sharp in April."
Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins scooped the main Vélo d'Or award as best rider of 2012. The Briton Olympic time trial gold medallist beat Paris-Roubaix and Tour of Flanders winner Tom Boonen and Spain's Joaquim Rodriguez for the prestigious award.