Thomas Voeckler’s massively popular in France. His spell in yellow during 2004 kicked it all off, especially his brave defence in the Pyrenees where he gurned his way up to the Plateau de Beille in defiance of a supercharged US Postal squad and an extra-terrestrial Ivan Basso.
But he’s won the French title twice and has two Tour de France stage wins to his name and is probably the most popular rider in France. Describing the Tour de France, he said he had to put himself in the middle of the grupetto as he was getting embarrassed at people cheering him whilst the likes of Hushovd, in green, were being ignored by roadside fans. As such he’s a real draw in the post-Tour criterium circuit.
So picture the scene. He lives near team mate Anthony Charteau and they decide to travel by car together to a criterium. When they arrive at the race, Charteau says he’ll park the car and get the bikes out if Voeckler goes to the signing on to collect the race numbers. So as Voeckler heads for the race HQ, the Tour de France King of the Mountains pulls the bikes out of the car and starts pumping up the tyres. At which point a spectator says “oh, look, Voeckler’s even brought his own mechanic“.