Thomas Voeckler

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Thomas Voeckler
Isbergues - Grand Prix d'Isbergues, 21 septembre 2014 (B118).JPG
Voeckler at the 2014 Grand Prix d'Isbergues
Personal information
Full nameThomas Voeckler
NicknameTi-Blanc
Francis
Born (1979-06-22) 22 June 1979 (age 40)
Schiltigheim, Alsace, France
Height1.74 m (5 ft 8 12 in) [1]
Weight71 kg (157 lb; 11 st 3 lb) [1]
Team information
Current teamRetired
DisciplineRoad
RoleRider
Rider typeAll-rounder
Climber
Breakaway specialist
Amateur team(s)
1999–2000Vendée U
2000 Bonjour (stagiaire)
Professional team(s)
2001–2017 Bonjour
Major wins
Grand Tours
Tour de France
Mountains classification (2012)
4 individual stages (2009, 2010, 2012)

Stage races

Tour de Luxembourg (2003)
Four Days of Dunkirk (2011)
Route du Sud (2006, 2013)
Tour La Provence (2016)
Tour de Yorkshire (2016)

One-day races and Classics

National Road Race Championships (2004, 2010)
GP Ouest–France (2007)
GP de Québec (2010)
Brabantse Pijl (2012)

Thomas Voeckler (French pronunciation:  [tɔ.ma vœ.klɛʁ] ; born 22 June 1979) is a French former road racing cyclist, who competed professionally between 2001 and 2017, for the Direct Énergie team and its previous iterations. [2]

Road bicycle racing bicycle racing sport

Road bicycle racing is the cycle sport discipline of road cycling, held on paved roads. Road racing is the most popular professional form of bicycle racing, in terms of numbers of competitors, events and spectators. The two most common competition formats are mass start events, where riders start simultaneously and race to set finish point; and time trials, where individual riders or teams race a course alone against the clock. Stage races or "tours" take multiple days, and consist of several mass-start or time-trial stages ridden consecutively.

Total Direct Énergie (cycling team) cycling team

Total Direct Energie is a professional road bicycle racing team that competes as a UCI Professional Continental team in UCI Continental Circuits races, and UCI World Tour races when invited as a wild card entry. In previous years, the team was known as Brioches La Boulangère, Bonjour, Bouygues Télécom, and Bbox Bouygues Telecom and Europcar. The 2015 season was the last under the sponsorship of Europcar; the team has been sponsored by Direct Énergie since 2016.

Contents

One of the most prominent French riders of his generation, Voeckler has been described as a "national hero", due to strong performances over several years in the Tour de France. [3] [4]

Tour de France Cycling competition

The Tour de France is an annual men's multiple stage bicycle race primarily held in France, while also occasionally passing through nearby countries. Like the other Grand Tours, it consists of 21 day-long stages over the course of 23 days. It has been described as "the world’s most prestigious and most difficult bicycle race".

Early life

Born in Schiltigheim, Bas-Rhin, Voeckler has been a professional cyclist since 2001. He comes from the Alsace region of France but later moved to Martinique, where he was nicknamed "Ti-Blanc" (a contraction of petit blanc, the literal translation of which is "little white") due to his small stature and pale complexion.

Schiltigheim Commune in Grand Est, France

Schiltigheim is a commune in the Bas-Rhin department in Grand Est in north-eastern France.

Alsace Place in Grand Est, France

Alsace is a cultural and historical region in eastern France, on the west bank of the upper Rhine next to Germany and Switzerland.

Martinique Overseas region and department in France

Martinique is an insular region of France located in the Lesser Antilles of the West Indies in the eastern Caribbean Sea, with a land area of 1,128 square kilometres (436 sq mi) and a population of 376,480 inhabitants as of January 2016. Like Guadeloupe, it is an overseas region of France, consisting of a single overseas department. One of the Windward Islands, it is directly north of Saint Lucia, northwest of Barbados and south of Dominica.

Career

Early years

Voeckler in the yellow jersey at the 2004 Tour de France Yellow and White at the Tour de France (12930764174).jpg
Voeckler in the yellow jersey at the 2004 Tour de France

In 2003, Voeckler captured two stages and the overall title in the Tour de Luxembourg. The following year, he suddenly rose to international prominence in the world of cycling. After seizing the French National Road Race Championships, the lightly regarded Voeckler entered the 2004 Tour de France. After escaping with five other riders during the fifth stage, Voeckler gained significant time against the peloton, and earned the yellow jersey (French : maillot jaune). Remarkably, he defended his jersey for ten days, even on stages not well-suited to his strengths.

The Tour de Luxembourg is an annual stage race in professional road bicycle racing held in Luxembourg. The Tour de Luxembourg is classified as a 2.HC, the highest rating below the World Tour, by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the sport's governing body. In 2006, the Tour was part of the UCI Europe Tour. Held in late May to early June, the event is sometimes used by riders as a preparation race for the Tour de France.

French National Road Race Championships cycling race in France

The French National Road Race Championship is a cycling race where the French cyclists decide who will become the champion for the year to come. The event was established in 1899, a professional championship was established in 1907 and the women's championship was established in 1951. Several additional categories were added later. The record for victories is by one of the best female cyclists, Jeannie Longo, who has so far won 20 road championships.

2004 Tour de France cycling race

The 2004 Tour de France was a multiple stage bicycle race held from 3 to 25 July, and the 91st edition of the Tour de France. It has no overall winner—although American cyclist Lance Armstrong originally won the event, the United States Anti-Doping Agency announced in August 2012 that they had disqualified Armstrong from all his results since 1998, including his seven Tour de France wins from 1999 to 2005; the Union Cycliste Internationale confirmed this verdict.

With the maillot jaune on his shoulders, and intense media attention all around him, Voeckler only rode stronger. He survived the dreaded climbs of the Pyrenees seconds ahead of Lance Armstrong. Voeckler finally surrendered the jersey to Armstrong on stage 15 in the French Alps. Voeckler then also lost the white jersey (French : maillot blanc; held by the best rider under 25) to Vladimir Karpets. But by then Voeckler was already a national hero.

Pyrenees Range of mountains in southwest Europe

The Pyrenees is a range of mountains in southwest Europe that forms a natural border between Spain and France. Reaching a height of 3,404 metres (11,168 ft) altitude at the peak of Aneto, the range separates the Iberian Peninsula from the rest of continental Europe, and extends for about 491 km (305 mi) from the Bay of Biscay to the Mediterranean Sea.

Lance Armstrong American cyclist

Lance Edward Armstrong is an American former professional road racing cyclist, infamous for the biggest doping scandal in cycling history.

French language Romance language

French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the spoken Latin in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) has largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.

The 2005 season was busy as Voeckler rode many races, including some not considered a fit for his style of riding. His only win that year came in Stage 3 of the Four Days of Dunkirk. In 2006 he won the fifth stage in the Tour of the Basque Country. At the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré, Voeckler finished second on Stage 1, and he also won Paris–Bourges.

Four Days of Dunkirk French cycling competition

The Four Days of Dunkirk is road bicycle race around the Nord-Pas de Calais region of northern France. Despite the name of the race, since the addition of an individual time trial in 1963, the race has been held over a 5 or 6 day period for most of its history. Since 2005, the race has been organised as a 2.HC event on the UCI Europe Tour. Dutch cyclist Mike Teunissen won the most recent edition of the race.

The 2006 Tour of the Basque Country was the 46th Tour of the Basque Country cycling race and was held over 6 stages from April 3 to April 8, 2006. It was won by Spaniard José Ángel Gómez Marchante of the Saunier Duval–Prodir cycling team.

The 2006 Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré was the 58th edition of the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré cycle race and was held from 4 June to 11 June 2006. The race consisted of a Prologue and seven stages covering a total of 1,098 km (682 mi), starting in Annecy and finishing in Grenoble.

In 2007, Voeckler garnered a stunning win at the GP Ouest-France, in which he beat the favorites with a late breakaway. For 2008, his early season was highlighted with an overall win at the Circuit de la Sarthe and in 2009, he gained his first stage win at the Tour de France, winning stage 5. Voeckler went for victory with about 5 kilometres (3.1 miles) to go, having been part of a breakaway group for most of the race. [5]

2010

After a somewhat slow start to 2010, Voeckler went on to win the French National Road Race Championships for the second time. He was able to break away from the bunch along with Christophe Le Mével, and Voeckler bested Le Mével in the sprint. He later described this win in the Vendée department, where he had made his home, as the best moment of his career. [6] His form then continued into the Tour de France where, after several unsuccessful attacks, he was first over the finish line during Stage 15. He launched himself 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) before the summit of the Hors Catégorie Port de Balès, cresting the summit alone. He negotiated the very fast descent without incident, and crossed the line in Bagnères-de-Luchon with more than a minute over the chasers. [7]

In September, Voeckler took the victory in the inaugural running of the Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec, a new event on the UCI World Tour calendar. He downplayed his chances in the press in the days before the event citing a lack of form. However, he attacked in the final kilometre to cross the finish line on the Grande-Allée with a couple of bike lengths over Team Sky's Edvald Boasson Hagen. [8]

2011

Voeckler in the yellow jersey at the 2011 Tour de France Thomas Voeckler et Arnold Jeannesson (5977458719).jpg
Voeckler in the yellow jersey at the 2011 Tour de France

In 2011, Voeckler enjoyed his finest year as a professional. He recorded eight spring victories prior to the Tour de France in July, notably taking two stages at Paris–Nice, and winning the overall classification in the Four Days of Dunkirk as well as the Tour du Haut Var.

In the ninth stage of the Tour de France, Voeckler led a breakaway, survived a collision caused by a media support car that injured two other riders, [9] and crossed the line second, taking the overall time lead and therefore wearing the yellow jersey (French : maillot jaune). He held on to the yellow jersey daily from the beginning of Stage 10 onwards, carrying it through all the Pyrenean mountain stages and into the Alps, but he was unable to retain it at the end of Stage 19, the queen stage finishing at Alpe d'Huez. Voeckler finished in fourth place in the final general classification, 3 minutes and 20 seconds behind the winner, Cadel Evans. It was Voeckler's highest final general classification in the Tour, and the highest placing of any Frenchman in the Tour, at the time, since Christophe Moreau's fourth-place overall finish in 2000. [10]

Voeckler's 2011 contract from Team Europcar was worth 420,000 a year, which made him the second highest-paid French cyclist after Sylvain Chavanel. [11] [12] His planned switch to Cofidis was worth almost twice as much, however Voeckler chose to remain at reduced salary with Jean-René Bernaudeau's team, once it re-found sponsorship for 2011, able to continue his 15-year relationship with the coach. [3]

2012

Voeckler in the polka dot jersey at the 2012 Tour de France Tour de France 2012, voeckler (14869545572).jpg
Voeckler in the polka dot jersey at the 2012 Tour de France

In 2012, Voeckler followed his previous year's successes with another season of victories and top placements, including a new-found focus in the Spring Classics.

His spring campaign did not achieve strong results until April, where he attained a top-ten finish in the Tour of Flanders, the second classic monument on the 2012 calendar; his first victory of the season came ten days later, during a 30-kilometre (19 mi) solo breakaway in the semi-classic Brabantse Pijl, which he won in cold, rainy conditions. [13] The following Sunday he took a top-five placement in the classic Amstel Gold Race, [14] and a week later continued his success in the Ardennes with a fourth-place in the final spring classic of the season, the monument Liège–Bastogne–Liège. [15] Along with other Europcar riders, Voeckler managed to win a stage in the Gabonese La Tropicale Amissa Bongo race, at the close of April. [16]

He started the Tour de France slowly, suffering from a knee injury and almost abandoning the grand tour, after also abandoning earlier preparation races. However he gathered strength and later won stage 10, the first mountain stage of the race, including crossing the hors catégorie climb of the Col du Grand Colombier in the lead, thus claiming the polka-dot jersey for the mountains classification lead, which he held for a day. [17] He also prevailed in the queen stage of the race, stage 16 from Pau to Bagnères-de-Luchon, which included four huge climbs including the Col du Tourmalet . Voeckler broke away from the peloton about 25 kilometres (16 miles) into the race and was part of a massive 38-man escape bunch. He passed all four King of the Mountains points locations in the lead, and grabbed the polka-dot jersey once again as well as the victory, dropping his last breakaway companion Brice Feillu of the Saur–Sojasun squad while ascending the Col de Peyresourde , the stage's final difficulty. He then charged down the mountain to reach the finish line with a minute and 40 seconds on the nearest chaser. [18] Voeckler subsequently won a classification podium spot in Paris for the first time in his career, by holding the tour's mountain classification jersey from the Pyrenees to the finish. [19]

2013

Voeckler in the race leader's jersey at the 2013 Route du Sud Voeckler RDS 2013.jpg
Voeckler in the race leader's jersey at the 2013 Route du Sud

Voeckler started the Classics season with a good showing in Dwars door Vlaanderen. He escaped the lead group of riders on the last climb with 6 kilometres (3.7 miles) to race and made a solo bid for the line, but was caught inside the final meters, only to take fifth. Voeckler was clearly heartbroken after such a close call. [20] In the Ardennes Classic Amstel Gold Race, Voeckler crashed with other favorites, was put on a stretcher and went to the hospital where a broken collarbone was detected. [21] By June Voeckler had rebounded and shown strong form once more, winning stage 6 of the Critérium du Dauphiné from a breakaway of four despite being outnumbered by two Astana riders. [22] Voeckler continued his winning form by winning the overall titles of the Route du Sud and the Tour du Poitou-Charentes.

2014

Voeckler at the 2014 Tour de France 2014-07-14 17-38-13 tour-de-france-plancher-bas (cropped).jpg
Voeckler at the 2014 Tour de France

In January, Voeckler was set to participate to the Tour Down Under, but he crashed into a car while training in Australia and broke his collarbone. [23] He came back to competition at the Tour Méditerranéen, then went on to finish 25th in the Amstel Gold Race and 36th in Liège–Bastogne–Liège. He then participated to the Tour de Romandie in April, attacking to no avail in the final of the first stage. [24] On the fourth stage, he took second place after being beaten for the sprint by his breakaway companion Michael Albasini (Orica–GreenEDGE). [25] Voeckler finished 21st overall. Voeckler had a significant result in the Tour de France, finishing second on the stage to Bagnères-de-Luchon behind Michael Rogers. [26] In August, while he was training, Voeckler hit a car and was injured again, this time dislocating his shoulder. [27] He came back at the Tour du Doubs, finishing 46th. In October, Voeckler finished second of Paris–Tours, after being part of the early breakaway. He cooperated well with his breakaway companion Jelle Wallays until the "last kilometer to go" sign, where Wallays refused to pull and Voeckler was beaten in the two-man sprint. He was so disappointed that he did not go to the podium ceremony, which resulted in a fine and the loss of the €3,770 second-place prize. [28]

2015

Voeckler's 2015 season was relatively quiet, with a fifth place on a stage of the Tour de France and third in the general classification of the inaugural Tour de Yorkshire being two of his most notable results. [29]

2016

In February, Voeckler took his first wins since August 2013 when he won the first stage and the general classification at the first edition of the Tour La Provence. [30] In early May Voeckler took the punishing final stage of the Tour de Yorkshire, outsprinting Nicolas Roche in Scarborough and taking the overall classification.

In September 2016, Voeckler announced that he would retire from professional cycling, after the 2017 Tour de France, [6] his fifteenth successive participation in the race. [2]

Career achievements

Major results

2002
8th Tour du Doubs
9th Grand Prix de la Ville de Lillers
2003
1st Jersey yellow.svg Overall Tour de Luxembourg
1st Stages 1 & 3
1st Classic Loire Atlantique
1st Stage 8 Tour de l'Avenir
2nd Tour de la Somme
3rd Grand Prix de Denain
7th Overall Tour Méditerranéen
2004
1st MaillotFra.PNG Road race, National Road Championships
1st Grand Prix de Plumelec-Morbihan
1st Stage 4 Route du Sud
2nd Clásica de Almería
6th Tro-Bro Léon
Tour de France
Held Jersey yellow.svg after Stage 5–14
Held Jersey white.svg after Stage 5–18
2005
1st Stage 3 Four Days of Dunkirk
Tour de France
Held Jersey polkadot.svg after Stage 2
2006
1st Jersey orange.svg Overall Route du Sud
1st Stage 1
1st Paris–Bourges
1st Stage 5 Tour of the Basque Country
3rd Overall Étoile de Bessèges
2007
1st Jersey white.svg Overall Tour du Poitou-Charentes
1st GP Ouest–France
1st Jersey polkadot.svg Mountains classification Paris–Nice
6th Overall Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana
10th Overall Tour de Pologne
2008
1st Jersey yellow.svg Overall Circuit de la Sarthe
1st Grand Prix de Plumelec-Morbihan
4th E3 Prijs Vlaanderen
6th Japan Cup
7th Grand Prix d'Isbergues
7th Paris–Bourges
10th Overall Tour du Poitou-Charentes
Tour de France
Held Jersey polkadot.svg after Stages 1–5
2009
1st Stage 5 Tour de France
1st Jersey yellow.svg Overall Tour du Haut Var
1st Stage 2
1st Jersey orange.svg Overall Étoile de Bessèges
1st Trophée des Grimpeurs
2nd Grand Prix d'Ouverture La Marseillaise
3rd Tour de Vendée
5th Overall Tour du Limousin
10th Chrono des Nations
2010
1st MaillotFra.PNG Road race, National Road Championships
1st Stage 15 Tour de France
1st Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec
3rd Overall Giro di Sardegna
6th Brabantse Pijl
10th Liège–Bastogne–Liège
2011
1st Jersey yellow.svg Overall Tour du Haut Var
1st Jersey pink.svg Overall Four Days of Dunkirk
1st Stage 4
1st Cholet-Pays de Loire
Paris–Nice
1st Stages 4 & 8
1st Stage 1 Tour Méditerranéen
3rd Road race, National Road Championships
3rd GP Ouest–France
4th Overall Tour de France
Held Jersey yellow.svg after Stage 9–18
4th Tour du Finistère
4th Giro del Piemonte
6th Overall Tour Méditerranéen
7th Overall Giro del Trentino
1st Stage 2
9th Overall Circuit de la Sarthe
9th Grand Prix de la Somme
10th Overall Critérium du Dauphiné
10th Classic Loire Atlantique
2012
1st Brabantse Pijl
Tour de France
1st Jersey polkadot.svg Mountains classification
1st Stages 10 & 16
1st Stage 3 La Tropicale Amissa Bongo
4th Liège–Bastogne–Liège
5th Overall Four Days of Dunkirk
5th Overall Tour du Poitou-Charentes
5th Amstel Gold Race
7th Road race, UCI Road World Championships
7th Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec
8th Tour of Flanders
9th Tre Valli Varesine
2013
1st Jersey orange.svg Overall Route du Sud
1st Stage 3
1st Jersey white.svg Overall Tour du Poitou-Charentes
1st Stage 4 (ITT)
1st Stage 6 Critérium du Dauphiné
2nd Tour du Doubs
2nd Grand Prix de Wallonie
5th Dwars door Vlaanderen
8th Milano–Torino
Jersey red number.svg Combativity award Stage 4 Tour de France
2014
2nd Paris–Tours
3rd Tour de Vendée
6th Grand Prix de Plumelec-Morbihan
2015
2nd Overall Tour du Gévaudan Languedoc-Roussillon
3rd Overall Tour de Yorkshire
2016
1st Jersey blue.svg Overall Tour La Provence
1st Stage 1
1st MaillotCyan.PNG Overall Tour de Yorkshire
1st Stage 3
4th Overall Circuit de la Sarthe
4th Overall Route du Sud
Jersey red number.svg Combativity award Stage 3 Tour de France

Grand Tour general classification results timeline

Grand Tour20012002200320042005200620072008200920102011201220132014201520162017
Jersey pink.svg Giro d'Italia 135 DNF 89 23
Jersey yellow.svg Tour de France 119 18 124 89 66 97 67 76 4 26 65 42 45 79 91
Jersey red.svg Vuelta a España 101
Legend
Did not compete
DNF Did not finish

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References

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