Voeckler and his Tour de France regrets. Where’s Edith Piaf?


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Thomas Voeckler is no Edith Piaf.

Her famous song “Je ne regrette rien” is not the tune that Voeckler is wistfully humming. He just came out in the press and admitted he does have regrets about missing the podium in this year’s Tour de France.

Although he spent ten magic days in yellow, up and down the Pyrenees and into the Alps, he finally blew his chances on the mythic Alpe d’Huez. Tactical errors on that final mountain stage left him in fourth place.

“With a clear head, I’d say that I lost second place at the Tour on the Col du Galibier. I shouldn’t have tried to follow Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck at all costs,” he said. “If I had finished in the same time as Cadel Evans… But I lacked clarity. My directeur sportif should have ordered me to stop. It was an error, but that’s how it was.”

Fini le maillot jaune.

What’s funny is that sharp and tactical Chris Horner told me almost the almost the exact thing yesterday in San Diego. According to Horner, everybody except Pierre Rolland screwed up that stage. He said that Voeckler’s DS should have been shouting in the man’s earpiece — “No, no, no — stop, what are you doing?” It took him four months but now Voeckler agrees with the American rider for RadioShack-Nissan Trek.

With the French public wildly enthusiastic and willing him to victory, Voeckler started to think the podium was a possibility.  “I never believed in Tour victory,” Voeckler told L’Équipe. “That’s not a bluff, but I did seriously believe in the podium. After Plateau de Beille, I said to myself that there was no reason why I lose more ground in the mountains.”

He did lose ground and that included that stop on the third step in Paris. Voeckler made the ill-advised move to chase Alberto Contador by himself after the Spaniard attacked on the Col du Télégraphe. Monumentally bad idea but loaded with panache. He finally have up after the Col du Galibier and waited for the Europcar teammates, then lost the maillot jaune on Alpe d’Huez.

A podium lost?

Horner watched the stage on TV at home in Bend, Oregon after his nasty crash in stage seven. That would knock him out of the race but he still rode to the finish line with a concussion, a broken nose, some broken ribs and severe bruising. Doctors later discovered a blood clot on his lung. Given the excruciating pain of the blood clot,  it’s unlikely that Horner was shouting at the TV when Voeckler made his disastrous move.

We’ll always remember that afternoon because we had the good fortune to see Voeckler ten minutes after the stage and those photos were some of the best we took all tour. He looked crushed and disappointed as he sat on the steps of a Europcar trailer.

Edith Piaf lead a hard life but have few regrets. For his part, Voeckler has at least one. “Today I think I could have done better that day if I’d had more confidence in my potential,” he said. “I didn’t exploit all of the possibilities.”

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  • http://twitter.com/velobutter @velobutter

    It's actually incredibly tragic, the more you think about it… I always assumed that after the tour he must of been depressed!! and the to make matters even better, everybody makes fun of the fact that he lost to a horse…

    • http://www.atwistedspoke.com TwistedSpoke

      Velobutter, shouldn't you go all the way French and call it velobuerre? I think he was pretty damn happy after the tour but does wish he could have that stage back to do over. The horse is tough — tougher than Evans or Schleck. Matt

      • http://twitter.com/velobutter @velobutter

        He probably was, but I wasn't really seeing that much of him racing wise, so I really had no idea! And obviously the horse was tough… a horse at trotting speed is faster than one of the Schlecks doing a time trial ;-)

      • http://twitter.com/velobutter @velobutter

        p.s. Awesome pictures you take!!!

      • http://www.atwistedspoke.com TwistedSpoke

        Butter, thanks for the compliment. It's really a case of right place, right time, good camera. My skills are limited but one of my goals for 2012 is to get better with the camera. A press credential at big races is such an honor and luxury that I feel duty bound to take better photos. Best, Matt

  • Jim Lakis

    Good article Matt. Thanks! – Jim

    • http://www.atwistedspoke.com TwistedSpoke

      Ji, thanks, A compliment is almost like money and maybe even better. Matt

  • Franck

    Ha oui Monsieur but you said it yourself, he lost a podium placing but he did it with panache. That, mon ami, in France is more important than a third place on the podium. Panache gives a person admiration from an entire nation. Do not forget the words from the Baron de Coubertin about participating in the Jeux Olympiques: L'essentiel est de participer.
    Medals are great but the honor to fight and to fight with panache trumps everything. speaking of Trump…
    fjb

    • http://www.atwistedspoke.com TwistedSpoke

      Yes, as we both know, the French prefer a loser with panache to a dull winner. And generally, as I do with most things French, I agree. Matt

  • @m1cw

    That's 2020 Hindsight. Either you go down in glory or you play conservative and safer? Can be critical either way. He didn't get to that point being safe and conservative, it was more of a double down. #hardDecision

    • http://www.atwistedspoke.com TwistedSpoke

      Agreed. He rode an almost perfect race. Hindsight is useful and yet useless in some cases. Matt