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"With such a strong field [Chris Froome, Alberto Contador, Vincenzo Nibali], I don't think I'll be in the mix for the overall win, but I do expect to be a protagonist, like last year," Voeckler says

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CRITERIUM DU DAUPHINE

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THOMAS VOECKLER

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03.06.2014 @ 10:51 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Last year Thomas Voeckler won a stage in the Criterium du Dauphiné and this year he hopes to be a protagonist again. Due to the strong field, he rules out being in contention of the overall but sees lots of stages where he can make his mark.

 

Thomas Voeckler, the stage winner in Grenoble last year, hopes to open his 2014 account in what will be his eighth Dauphiné.
 
Thomas Voeckler does not see the Critérium du Dauphiné as a warm-up for the Tour de France. Proof? He recently took the trouble to reconnoitre some of the stages he'll be tackling as the peloton winds its way from Lyon to Courchevel from June 8 to 15. "I have a soft spot for one-week stage races like Paris–Nice and the Dauphiné", proclaims the best climber of the 2012 Tour de France."I don't need any extra motivation to race the Dauphiné because it's a natural objective for me."
 
The Europcar leader has been playing catch-up this season after breaking his collarbone just off the plane in Australia, where he intended to take part in the Tour Down Under. Despite finishing third in a stage of the Volta a Catalunya and second in a stage of the Tour deRomandie, he is still chasing his first win of 2014. "Physically, I'm looking for the right feelings", he explains after coming in sixth at the Grand Prix de Plumelec. "I haven't been firing on all cylinders so far this year. I'm not 100% relaxed ahead of the Dauphiné, but I haven't got any reason to expect the worst either. With such a strong field [Chris Froome, Alberto Contador, Vincenzo Nibali], I don't think I'll be in the mix for the overall win, but I do expect to be a protagonist, like last year."
 
Seeing him prevail in stage 6 to Grenoble after getting rid of Astana duo Kevin Seeldrayers andYegor Silin, as well as the other member of a four-man breakaway, was enough to makedirecteur sportif Andy Flickinger cry in his home region. "Andy used to be a teammate of mine", he says. We became friends and now he's my directeur sportif, but I haven't got any special emotional bond with his region, the Dauphiné. At the Tour de France, I've always said I preferred the Pyrenees to the Alps, but I've got great memories of the Critérium, the best of which dates from my first start in 2004, when I finished third in a stage, also in Grenoble, behind Michael Rasmussen and Ivan Basso but ahead of the Phonaks [Gutiérrez, Sevilla, Pereiro and Hamilton]. I was flabbergasted."
 
The 2014 Dauphiné seems tailor-cut for the Voeckler of today, at least on paper. "It doesn't feature very famous passes", he points out, "but some of them are extremely tough. One of the climbs I reconnoitred was the finish in Switzerland, in Finhaut-Émosson, the day before the finale in Courchevel. Riders who forget to mount a 27 will be in a world of pain. Apart from that, it's true that medium mountain stages, like the one to Gap with the Col de Manse just before the end, are right up my alley."

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