Voeckler crowns season with Quebec win

Reuters - Sat, 11 Sep 09:09:00 2010

French champion Thomas Voeckler crowned a paradoxical season with victory in the inaugural 189-kms Grand Prix du Quebec ProTour cycling race.

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"I didn't have the most perfect season in terms of leading a healthy life and training hard and here I am. It goes to show that cycling is not an exact science," the Frenchman said.

Voeckler attacked in the last kilometre under the St Louis Gate opening into the Quebec old town, outwitting pre-race favourites Edvald Boasson-Hagen of Norway and Dutchman Robert Gesink, who had to settle for second and third.

Voeckler had come to Quebec hampered by stomach pains and worn out after a long season which saw him win the French national title as well as a Tour de France stage in Luchon.

On the day before the race, he was even spotted lazing in the swimming pool of the Chateau Frontenac, the luxury hotel lodging the peloton in Quebec City, instead of riding his bike.

"I spent most of the early race at the back of the bunch, without any ambition," the 31-year-old Frenchman said. "But the crowds kept shouting my name.

"I didn't know I was that famous in Quebec, it spurred me into reacting and trying something."

And it paid off beyond expectations, to the point that Voeckler, who had decided against taking part in the world championship in Melbourne on October 3, is now reconsidering his position.

"I had no idea I was so strong. I'm going to discuss it with French national coach Laurent Jalabert but for now I'm sticking to my plan not to go," he said.

Local favourite Ryder Hesjedal, seventh in the last Tour de France, finished just outside the podium in fourth place and was cheered by an unexpectedly huge crowd lining the winding paved streets of the old town.

"It was great to race in such atmosphere," said third-placed Gesink.

"The setting was just gorgeous and the course very similar to a world championship course. I think Quebec would stand good chances if they decided to stage a world championship race," the Dutchman added.

Quebec is considering bidding for the 2015 road worlds.

The ProTour circuit stays in Canada for the Montreal Grand Prix on Sunday.


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