Europcar says thanks

Europcar L'Equipe

That’s an advert in today’s L’Equipe newspaper, snapped by a twitter user. The wording below Pierre Rolland and Thomas Voeckler translates as “3450km full of courage” but “le plein” is also the term for a full tank of fuel so it also means “3450km on a full tank of courage” , an appropriate message for a car hire company.

The small print says “our 6500 colleagues warmly thank Thomas and the whole Europcar team for the three weeks full of emotion on the roads of France. Once again well done for your beautiful team spirit and your courage. We’ll remember our first Tour de France”. It’s a way of saying thank-you but it’s also the kind of remarkable imagery that normal advertising just can’t buy. After all, I’m mentioning it.

It goes without saying it’s been a good Tour for Europcar. The corporate press and publicity staff have been overwhelmed by the positive imagery and name-checks and they’ve used the three weeks to wine and dine 150 VIP customers and executives. They needed a wildcard to ride but the invitation was never in doubt.

Last year the team’s previous sponsor withdraw, it had given plenty of notice but the search for a replacement sponsor was proving difficult. Some riders jumped to other teams, notably Pierrick Fédrigo to FDJ. Thomas Voeckler himself was in talks to join Cofidis and he’d signed a contract for 2011… but had yet to fax the signed copy back. At the very last minute Europcar arrived and insisted it would fund the team… so long as Voeckler stayed. He did, even taking a pay cut and under pressure to save some 50 jobs. But the team has said this inspired greater team work. The sponsor has ambitions to rejoin the top-18 “Pro Team” status and Voeckler’s points haul in July will go some way to helping but there’s talk of signing new riders too.

16 thoughts on “Europcar says thanks”

  1. The only Frenchman to win the BBC’s International Sports Personality of the Year was Jacques Antequil in 1963. There should be a second French cyclist so honoured this year. There may be more victorious athletes this year but none will perform so courageously.

    As a postcript, the owner of Europcar who insisted that Voeckler remain part of the team he sponsored for this year, has been richly rewarded for his support, not least by this clever advert

  2. A really good story, even if he did not win it. Too often the news about teams have involved, disbanding, lack of funding, lack of support and doubts about the future. But this team has really made this tour even more interesting, adding a sort of David vs. Goliath aspect to what would have already been a fascinating Tour.

  3. This is a prime example of how the marketing investment in sports does not end when one writes the sponsorship check. Collateral advertising, hospitality, and treating the team (in the media at least) as a member of the corporate family go a long way in building the return on investment. It certainly helps when you have a great story to tell.

  4. wow, I didn’t realize Voeckler took a pay cut when he agreed to stay. that just makes me admire him more! I hope Tour prize money and bonuses help make up for it.

  5. No doubt team Europcar have supplied the most emotion on this Tour. A fantastic performance all round. But what’s your take on team tactics in the last two mountain stages? Should Rolland have buried himself on the final climb on Stage 18 to minimise Voeckler’s losses? Recall, they let Evans lead the Schleck chase alone. And on the next day should Rolland have been allowed to go for the stage win, rather than one final day as the superdomestique? Is it normal for the Maillot Jaune to climb alone with a team-mate up the road?

    How do you weigh the value of a stage win on Alpe d’Huez and white jersey against the chance of a podium position in the GC for Voeckler?

    I think it’s great that R0lland took some glory at the end after all the work he did for his leader. But despite his TV humility I think Voeckler will be in some way disappointed to have missed 3rd place by such a small margin.

    I’d be interested in thoughts on how the decisions were made by the team and the two riders.

  6. While I thought overall this was the best, most exciting tour I’ve seen in about 30 years of watching it, I have to say, while today’s stage was great (well done Cadel), watching TV fight, hang on, hang on some more, and then give it a bit extra … stunning. His emotion, his desire, his fight … damn I wish there was a podium place for 4th, or that he made 3rd. He was the story of the tour. I was always a fan of his pluck, but this year. Simply, this, in a time of overinflated sport ego, is a story worth covering.

  7. Jack,

    Voeckler himeslf told Rolland to go up the road on AdH. I personally don’t think there’s anything to question when the leader tells the domestique that he’s done and that the domestique should ride for himself.

  8. Jack: as Nathan says Voeckler told Rolland to go, his words were “go and play your white card” apparently. Voeckler’s “mistake” was to chase for so long on the Galibier and watching the TV interviews I think he’s torn up inside about it.

  9. Surprised that TV took a pay cut. Contrast that to previous posts regarding the unpopularity of TV within the peloton. I bet he is not unpopular amongst his teammates.

  10. Nathan, Inner Ring: Thanks. Interesting. I didn’t know that. That only makes me more impressed by Voeckler, the man, than I already am – if that’s possible! Hoping he, Rolland and their team go from strength to strength.

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