The legs and the head are no longer willing. French rider Thomas Voeckler, winner of four stages in the Tour de France, and wearer of the maillot jaune for 20 days, says he will retire in 2017 after the French grand tour.
However, that was news to Voucher’s tongue. Long a distinctive presence in the pro peloton, Voeckler’s tongue was often on display as he labored in a breakaway, pretending fatigue, cramps, impending exhaustion.
Voeckler says he wants to retire but according to several sources, his tongue wants to go one more year. “It is a problem for Thomas, for sure. His tongue wants him to keep riding but he has had enough, said Direct Energie soigneur Julian Leblague. “And yet, you cannot separate the two.”
It’s a difficult situation to resolve for Voeckler and his signature tongue. “I don’t know what he will do. Thomas needs his tongue as he moves forward to the next stage of his life but the tongue still longs for the excitement of the race,” said Pierre Marrant, a French journalist with L’Equipe. “The tongue wants to flap in the wind, to feel the thrill of the attack, to enjoy the attention on the podium.”
Voeckler and his tongue are trying to work out an equitable solution that gives them both what they need. “Perhaps Thomas can be semi-retired and ride just a handful of races. In this way, both he and his tongue can be happy,” said Leblague. “I cannot speak for his tongue but maybe this is a possibility.”
However, Voeckler has been adamant that he will stop at the end of the 2017 Tour de France, regardless of what his tongue says. “It’s a hard thing for the tongue because it is not like it can leave on its own. It must remain in Thomas’ mouth. And yet, your heart goes out to the tongue — it is such a difficult thing to leave the spotlight when you are not ready,” said Marrant.