Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) has won the prestigious Vélo d’Or Français award for the third consecutive year thanks to his inspirational performances during the 2012 season. The prize is awarded to the year’s best French rider by the authoritative Vélo Magazine, and there was no doubt that Voeckler was a deserving recipient of the accolade given his consistency all through the year.
As usual, the stand-out performances of Voeckler’s season came at the Tour de France. Even though a knee injury in the build-up to the race put his participation in doubt, Voeckler found his form in the mountains, and won two stages and the polka dot jersey of best climber.
Voeckler was certainly a true king of the mountains as the Selle Italia rider took stage wins in both the Alps and the Pyrenees, and his second win at Bagnères-de-Luchon, in particular, is one that will live forever in the folklore of the Tour de France. Voeckler led over each of the four most famous mountain passes of the Pyrenees – the Col d’Aubisque, the Col du Tourmalet, the Col d’Aspin and the Col de Peyresourde – en route to an emotional victory.
Voeckler was also hugely impressive in the spring classics in 2012, winning Brabantse Pijl and finishing in the top 10 at Amstel Gold Race, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Tour of Flanders. There was no more consistent rider last April than Voeckler and he has been inspired to aim at the classics again in 2013.
“It’s often said that you need experience to succeed in the classics, but you also need the physical ability,” Voeckler said. “For a long time, I skipped the classics because I didn’t think I could do anything. But now it’s different.”
The spring classics, the Tour de France and the world championships will be major targets for Voeckler in 2013, but he admitted that his first objective will be early in the season and close to home, Paris-Nice in March.
“I’m not saying that I’m going to win Paris-Nice, but if there’s one race that I’d really like to win, it’s Paris-Nice…”