Stage 19 of the 2011 Tour de France was a kind of good news-bad news scenario for Europcar. That was the day the magnificent yellow jersey fight by Thomas Voeckler came to an end on Alp d’Huez.
However, it was also the day that teammate Pierre Rolland signaled that he finally realized his true potential with a triumphant win on the last mountain stage of the Tour.
Happiness and disappointment in one beautiful and brutal day in the Alps. Twisted Spoke was by Voeckler as he slumped down exhausted and disappointed with the loss of the maillot jaune. He complained and commiserated with French journalists about what went wrong.
Nevertheless, his support and excitment shortly thereafter for Rolland’s win was genuine and effusive. It was by anyone’s measure a fantastic tour for the team of Jean-René Bernaudeau. The former B-B-Bee-Box Boys had done tres bon.
With last weeks’ announcement of the time-trial heavy and mountain-lite 2012 Tour de France race route, Europcar is already reworking their strategy for both riders for La Grande Boucle. It sounds like a role reversal, a switcheroo.
“Pierre has ambitions in the general classification,” said Bernaudeau. “He did a good time trial in Grenoble [in 2011] and we’re working on some more specific material for the time trial. Thomas will be on the Tour in a free role. Their ambitions can’t come into conflict and they appreciate that. I’ve built something with sincerity between them.”
The only real conflict right now is between Europcar, Geox, FDJ and Euskatel-Euskadi for one of the three final ProTour designations. Given that Geox is essentially dead and Samuel Sanchez id questioning whether the Men of Orange will have sponsorship past 2012, that looks like a done deal.
“We’ve put in our application. We’re hopeful, but we’ve continued in our way of acting, so we’ll see,” Bernaudeau told a webchat on Eurosport.fr. “Given the problems that certain other teams have, our reliability could pay off.” Nice diplomatic way of saying we pay our bills and others don’t.
Given the shaky financial model in pro cycling, reliability is hard to come by and worthy of great respect. We look forward to watching Rolland and Voeckler back in action in July, whatever their respective team roles.