Voeckler – We are aiming to wear the new colours with pride and succeed like last year !

15 Jan

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Yesterday was the official launch of the new Europcar team, and it star rider Thomas Voeckler has clearly set out the targets of the French squad. “One goal of the season is to be present at the Tour,” he stated, referring to the fact that the Professional Continental team will need to gain a wildcard place. “To do this we need to earn our selection. On paper, we have a team that has a good chance. We have a history with the Tour. We also have an ethos, a way to see the bike, which I think is good. It’s not necessary to race while always keeping the Tour in mind, but we must achieve the best results to earn our place on the Tour or, next year, the Pro Tour.”

Voeckler had a very impressive season in 2010, winning the French championship, taking stage 15 in the Tour de France and then going on to win the ProTour Grand Prix Cycliste de Quebec. His remaining with the team was a vital part of it getting new sponsorship, with Europcar replacing BBox Bouygues Telecom specifically because he was there.

In fact, he was on the verge of signing for Cofidis when he got a call from the new sponsor saying that the backing would only be given if he stayed.

Voeckler’s talk about the need for a strong season campaign is more relevant to earning a ProTeam (ProTour) place for 2012 than it is about earning a Tour de France place. The reason? Well, according to Cyclism’Actu, Tour de France technical director Jean-François Pescheux has said that the wildcard places will be decided by the end of January, a time when many of those teams chasing selection may not have started racing.

What helps the Europcar team’s candidature is several things: its position as a successful French team which took two stages in last year’s race; the presence of Voeckler and other solid riders; the lack of any scandal connected with the team, and the fact that the Tour de France will begin in the Vendée region, where the team is based.

Voeckler knows all this but is taking nothing for granted. “There is no guarantee so far, but we will do everything to be at the start. It would be a disappointment not to be,” the 31 year old said. “What’s important is working hard and the spirit shown. Cycling is an uncertain sport where you must be successful. What we can guarantee is the image we give and the heart with which we work. We must ride with everything to show off the colours of our sponsor.”

Europcar has come on board after many years of the team begin funded by its previous backers. The most immediate change is the team kit, which has gone from a bright blue to a deep green. There will inevitably be other variations, but he feels that the trick is to try to continue on as seamlessly as possible from last year. “The goal is not to change everything because it worked well last season,” he stated. “It is necessary to always have extra motivation. We will try to have the same performances.

“We owe a debt of gratitude to Europcar. It has put trust in us for three years and we must repay them for that confidence. 2010 was an exceptional year for us. It will be difficult to do as well although we will provide the means to achieve this goal.

“The end of the year was difficult, but since the formal commitment of Europcar, we are all relieved. The season is launched, everyone knows our colors. We will try to wear them proudly and achieve as much as possible. We won’t set any limits.”

Voeckler will resume racing in the Etoile de Bessèges and then plans to ride the Tour of the Mediterranean. Paris-Nice will be his initial big goal of the season, the first event where the fans are likely to see his gutsy, aggressive racing this year.

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Article – Velo-Nation

 

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