Frenchman Thomas Voeckler is living the dream again, wearing the Tour de France’s yellow jersey for a second time after 2004.

“I am lucky to be here,” Voeckler said in a press conference, “and I know what it means to wear this yellow jersey.”

He took the yellow jersey in Chartres in 2004 thanks to Lance Armstrong. The American, then a five-time overall winner, held the yellow jersey that day after his US Postal team won the team time trial the previous day.

Armstrong let the escape gain enough time so that the workload would not fall completely on this team-mate’s shoulders. Voeckler won the jersey by 9-35 minutes over Armstrong and kept it for 10 stages.

On the Tour’s first of two rest days today, team Europcar’s Voeckler leads the race by 1-49 minutes over Luis León Sánchez and 2-26 minutes over race favourite, Cadel Evans (BMC).

“I knew that if it happened again, I’d enjoy it more,” added Voeckler. “In 2004, I was very young and it was quite a surprise for me. They had let us go that day, it was completely different. Today, it was not a gift. I had to fight to get it.”

Voeckler formed part of a six-man escape yesterday that eventually whittled down to five as they raced to Saint Flour.

Sky’s Juan Antonio Flecha was part of the escape, but he and Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil-DCM) crashed after being knocked aside by a passing France 2 TV car. Voeckler went ahead with eventual stage winner Luis-Leon Sanchez (Rabobank) and Sandy Casar (FDJ), anxious to gain time on the peloton behind.

A crash earlier in the race, with 106 kilometres to race, slowed the peloton and allowed Voeckler his chance. Many riders were involved and two classification favourites, Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) and Jurgen Van den Broeck (Omega Pharma-Lotto), abandoned with fractures.

“I only started to think of the yellow jersey,” said Voeckler, “when we had up to seven minutes and I had heard of the crashes behind.”

He was upset that a car had hit Flecha and Hoogerland and wanted them with him since he was racing for time. Had they crashed earlier in the 208-kilometre stage, he said, his group would have waited.

Sky was positioned to take a second stage win yesterday with Flecha. It enjoyed its first taste of Tour success with Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen on Thursday. One day later, Bradley Wiggins abandoned with a fractured collarbone and yesterday, a car ruined Flecha’s chances.

“He’s got a lot of whiplash,” Sky’s principal, David Brailsford said in a press release. “A bit like being in a car crash really.”

Flecha is expected to start tomorrow’s 10th leg to Carmaux. Voeckler will wear the yellow jersey and will likely hold on to it until Thursday, when race faces the Pyrenean mountains.

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Tour de France 2011: Teams, riders, start list
Tour de France 2011: Official start list
Tour de France 2011: Who’s riding?
Tour de France 2011: Team guide

Tour de France 2011: Stage reports

Stage nine: Sanchez conquers day of crashes and climbs

Stage eight: Costa wins first mountain stage of 2011 Tour

Stage seven: Cavendish wins but Wiggins crashes out of Tour

Stage six: Boasson Hagen takes Sky’s first Tour de France win

Stage five: Cavendish wins in Cap Frehel

Stage four: Evans edges out Contador on the Mur-de-Bretagne

Stage three: Farrar sprints to first Tour victory in Redon

Stage two: Garmin win team time trial to put Hushovd in yellow

Stage one: Gilbert blasts to victory as Tour gets off to spectacular start

Tour de France 2011: Highlights videos

Stage nine video highlights

Stage eight video highlights

Stage seven video highlights

Stage six video highlights

Video: Erik Zabel’s role as Cavendish’s sprint advisor

Stage five video highlights

Video: The ride of Philippe Gilbert at the Tour de France

Stage four video highlights

Stage three video highlights

Stage two video highlights

Stage one video highlights

Tour de France 2011: Photo galleries

Stage nine photo gallery by Graham Watson


Stage eight photo gallery by Graham Watson


Stage seven photo gallery by Graham Watson


Tour de France 2011 wallpaper gallery


Stage six photo gallery by Graham Watson


Stage five photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage four photo gallery by Andy Jones

Stage four photo gallery by Graham Watson


Stage three photo gallery by Graham Watson


Stage two photo gallery by Andy Jones


Stage two photo gallery by Graham Watson


Stage one photo gallery by Graham Watson


Tour de France 2011 team time trial training photo gallery by Andy Jones

Tour de France 2011 team presentation by Andy Jones

Tour de France 2011 team press conferences by Andy Jones

Tour de France 2011 team presentation by Graham Watson

Tour de France 2011: Live text coverage
Tour de France 2011 LIVE: CW’s text coverage schedule
Stage seven live text coverage

Tour de France 2011: Archive videos
Video: 2003 Centenary Tour
Video: Lance Armstrong retrospective
Video: Behind the scenes at the Tour
Video: Guerini’s 1999 stage win
Video: Thrills and spills at the Tour
Video: Armstrong in 1999
Video: The Indurain years
Video: Ladies of the Tour
Video: Best of bizarre

Tour de France 2011: Archive articles

1999 Tour de France stage two: Passage du Gois causes chaos

Tour de France 2011: TV schedule
British Eurosport Tour de France 2011 TV schedule
ITV4 Tour de France 2011 TV schedule

Tour de France 2011: Related links
Tour de France: The jerseys, what they are and what they mean
Potted history of the Tour de France
The closest Tours in history
Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Wiggins
Tour de France 2010: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index

 


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