I have to admit, the thought crossed my mind that Voeckler’s performance is too good to be true. We saw a gutsy performance by him in 2004 when he held the yellow jersey from stages 5-14, but no one took him seriously as a GC contendor. We’ve never seen him climb with the leaders like this before. However, that was during the Armstrong era and he was racing against a much different beast. I can’t recall where I read it, but today Voeckler said something to the effect, “I could not have held Basso and Armstrong’s wheel in 2004″. I think we’re seeing Voeckler going head to head with a much cleaner peloton this year. Just look at the attacks we saw on the Plateau de Beille today. Back in the Armstrong days we’d see him attack and hold the pace for 10km. It was exhilarating at the time, but now we know that was an illusion. Note that Voeckler was rated as a ’0′ on the UCI Suspicion index that was leaked last year.

It’s a bit too soon to tell, but I think Voeckler has a real shot at holding yellow until Paris. If he can climb with Basso, Evans, the Schlecks and Contador in the Alps, it’s going to be close. In the Dauphine TT (which had the exact same TT course as is being used in the Tour), Cadel put just under 2 minutes into him. If Voeckler is still wearing the yellow jersey by then, he’ll do a TT like he’s never done before.

The final week in a Grand Tour is always the true test and the cream will rise to the top. It’s going to be a thrilling week ahead, and I’m not going to miss a moment of it!

Photos

courtesy of Veeral Patel and Sirotti

Stage 14 Profile

Stage 14 Results

1 Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 5:13:25
2 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:00:21
3 Andy Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek 0:00:46
4 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:00:48
5 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling
6 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo Bank Sungard
7 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar
8 Fränk Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek
9 Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
10 Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar

82 Stuart O’Grady (Aus) Leopard Trek 0:22:57
97 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Sky Procycling 0:24:34
114 Richie Porte (Aus) Saxo Bank Sungard
132 Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) HTC-Highroad 0:26:45
160 Mark Renshaw (Aus) HTC-Highroad

General Classification after Stage 14

1 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar 61:04:10
2 Fränk Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek 0:01:49
3 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:02:06
4 Andy Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek 0:02:15
5 Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:03:16
6 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:03:44
7 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo Bank Sungard 0:04:00
8 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre – ISD 0:04:01
9 Thomas Danielson (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo 0:05:46
10 Kevin De Weert (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team 0:06:18

72 Richie Porte (Aus) Saxo Bank Sungard 1:11:30
88 Stuart O’Grady (Aus) Leopard Trek 1:21:43
99 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Sky Procycling 1:32:55
139 Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) HTC-Highroad 2:00:30
165 Mark Renshaw (Aus) HTC-Highroad 2:19:20

Stage 15 Preview