French darling Thomas Veockler, who hasn’t won a race since 2013, used his fresh legs and trademark tongue to gain victory in stage 1 of the inaugural Tour de la Provence.
The Direct Energie star admitted that his lack of results had forced him to go back to basics. “In looking at old photos and video of my past wins, I noticed that my tongue was more active, more prominent and forceful,” said Voeckler. “So I have been working on using my tongue more in 2016 and it has already paid off.”
Voeckler made a breakaway of six riders and was the only one to stay away, beating Peter Vakoc (Etixx – Quick-Step) by seven seconds and his young teammate Lilian Calmejane by nine.
Tongue-specific training has clearly paid off for the popular Frenchman. “With the stage profile, the wind, my tongue and the difficult final circuit, it was difficult for teams to control the race.”
Alain Blageur, a sports scientists working with the Direct Energie squad, was not surprised by Voeckler’s strong finish. “You can really see the Thomas of old. His lively tongue is animating the entire race. It inspires him and gives him courage,” said Blageur. In this sport, you must have an attacking spirit and an attacking tongue.”
Voeckler will now wear the first leaders’ jersey for Wednesday’s second stage, a 180km haul from Miramas to Istres