When the Union Cycling International teams gather in France next weekend, the best French cyclist will not be riding the circuit. In 2011, Thomas Voeckler crossed the finish line in third place, just three minutes and twenty seconds behind the winner of the Tour de France, Cadel Evans of Australia. And now, with a swollen knee injury, Voeckler hopes to recover for the 2012 Tour de France, which begins on June 30.
Physicians have urged him to rest the knee for at least eight days and Voeckler realizes just how much that will hamper his training for the main event. “It goes against preparations for the Tour,” he said, “but I’ll be fresh without being on top form because I would only have three days of cycling in my legs before the start. I’m also keeping things in perspective, seeing as I’ve been largely spared injuries in my career.”
While Voeckler demonstrates the perspective of an aging cyclist, Evans is nearly two years older and has plans to snatch a second win from the doubters who think last year was a fluke. But Evans has already been humbled by Bradley Wiggins, who beat him during the Dauphine Libere that ended on June 10.
“I came here to try and win,” said Evans, “but I was beaten by a better team and a better guy. It was a week of hard racing and a good bit of training toward July and hopefully my big form of the year so far.”
If Voeckler stays down with a swollen knee, Evans will get a chance to demonstrate his form, but so will Wiggins and a host of other professional cyclists. Given the right care and the best products, Voeckler might just make a full recovery and pull out an awesome upset. We shall see.
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