Thomas Voeckler’s capture and then retention of the yellow jersey was one of the highlights of last year’s Tour de France. Yesterday in Stage 10 he brought a smile to this year’s race.
It was a close call, on both who would win in Bellegarde-sur-Valserine and who I wanted to win. Tommy or Jens Voigt, after great rides by both.
All the classic Tommyisms were there, the tongue sticking out, the chin jutting, the inability to sit and ride it out at one pace as he was up and down in pace, in an out of his saddle. In the process helping to whittle down the initial 25 man breakaway to the small group he would be competing with on the final drag.
Though one of those lot wasn’t there as Voigt powered down from the last decent to somehow catch up with the Voeckler group, not bad for an old bloke. With that amazing move to join the leaders my support of Tommy wavered. It wavered even more when Devenyns and Voigt set off on a last gasp break, while Tommy seemed to be messing about. Yes, I know he was concerned about Sanchez, not wanting to drag the Spanish rider to finish for Sanchez to beat him as happened last year. But in that concern was he just going to let the other two have a free ride for the win.
Luckily for Tommy that last section of the route was a killer, Devenyns imploded as Voeckler made his move, passing both ahead. What followed was probably the slowest sprint finish in the history of The tour. It seemed to go on forever as the metres counted down very, very slowly. Couldn’t believe it when there was still 350 to go. Neither could Voeckler, according to his post race interview.
Thankfully he held on, a blessed relief for the rider who was close to quitting the race after suffering in the first week with tendinitis in his knee, which has hampered him for some time and might have stopped him even starting. He spent most of those opening stages hanging out the back of the main group and being criticised for doing so.
Has anyone looked more excited on the podium than Tommy as he picked up the prize for the stage victory, the polka dot jersey for King of the Mountains and the trophy for most combative rider of the day. Though when he exited the stage that right leg looked awful stiff and straight.
Wiggins stays in yellow after another masterclass by his Sky team. Nibali and to a lesser extent Evans tried but again the Sky guys reeled them in with what seemed ease. Even when Evans ran wide, running Sky’s Rogers offline resulting in him suffering a puncture and subsequently unable to rejoin the yellow jersey group.
Nibali sounds rattled, all we’ve heard from him at this Tour is how little he regards Wiggins, yet when Wiggo just looks at him he’s screaming about
respec innit. One of them is acting like a footballer, it’s the accuser.