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In the 2001 and 2002 "Jaja" went on long mountain attacks in the Tour. His chances of winning were slim but they did earn him the best climber awards each time as well as a gracious end to a career when he was less dominant.
France's most popular cyclist ever was Raymond Poulidor, was eternal runner up. He never won the Tour de France and in fact never even wore the yellow jersey, but he was much more popular than his rival Jacques Anquetil, who won the race five times.
Voeckler first made a name for himself in the 2004 Tour when he grabbed the yellow jersey in Chartres and kept it for 10 days. In that space of time, he won the hearts of the French public for pluckiness and general courage. And he also learned something important when it comes to bike racing in France winning is not always everything.
Don't look now but Thomas Voeckler is at it again. The 2008 Tour de France is only two days old, but wily Frenchman has been in the day's major breakaway on each occasion. But then, those that know Voeckler know what to expect.
"I like being in breaks. I look at the scenery. I watch the crowd and look to see if I recognize anybody. I think about eating and drinking and turning over my legs. And sometimes I sing a song."
Since then, Voeckler's gritty racing style has won him 15 odd races. But none have garnered him the attention of the 2004 Tour.
"I've come to feel that putting on a good show is just as important as winning or losing," he said in his last year. "A bicycle race is not just a race. It's also a spectacle."
Voeckler attacked after only two kilometers of stage one, while on stage two from Auray to St. Brieuc he waited for nearly 10 kilometers before jumping away. In both cases, the breakaways that he helped forge failed before the finish. But Voeckler was unfazed. And in the meantime, it has also earned him the distinctive red polka dot jersey awarded to the race's best climber.
Voeckler now has a lock on the polka dot jersey for the next three stages since they are flat and offer not climbing points. Voeckler promises to lay low in the upcoming days. "I need a lot of rest. I really need to take it easy for a couple of stages," he said. "I need to rest before I attack again."
Laurent Jalabert, a great French rider that actually did win plenty of races in the 1990s, came to understand the simple idea of putting on a show at the end of his Nike Women Sweatshirts
(ed. French) are happy to simply ride well, to show off their jersey in a race."
2008 Tour de France
Yet despite Hinault's protests Voeckler clearly is following in the footsteps others like Jacky Durand, Nike Tracksuits For Sale those that prefer the experience of the bike race rather than the constant calculations required of those hoping to win.
Such an attitude, however, does not please all. Five time Tour de France winner Bernard Hinault says simply, "I'm outraged. The problem today is that the riders Nike Windrunner White And Black
But then French cycling fans, it could be said, have a long love affair with losers, or at least those that die trying. Winning is not the end all, and Voeckler is the last in the line of Nike Jacket Mens With Hood
"The French don't particularly like winners," says Jacky Durand, who earned a reputation as the long break specialist. "They like fighters. They like the combative spirit. And I think French riders understand that. It has sort of become our trademark."
popular champions that made a name first with their courageous racing style rather than their lavish list of victories.
"You know the last couple of years I really tried to target certain stages but I was frustrated at the end when things didn't work out," he said at the finish of stage two in St. Brieuc. "This year I just said I was going to have fun. And fun for me is attacking.
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