Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) took the Tour de France's most coveted prize, the race leader's yellow jersey in stage 9 yesterday. The punchy Frenchman finished the stage in second place behind winner Luis Leon Sanchez, but had gained enough time in the overall classification to claim yellow by 1'49 over Sanchez.
As often happens in the Tour, a new jersey colour means a new bike - even if it's just for one day. Thus Voeckler will start stage 10 on a brand new yellow Colnago C59, courtesy of some quick work by his team's bike sponsor Colnago.
The company's marketing manager Alessandro Colnago (grandson of boss Ernesto) explained to BikeRadar what it took to get the bike to Voeckler, given that Colnago is based in northern Italy and Voeckler and the Europcar team are currently in the middle of France.
"This morning at five am we prepared the frame [in Cambiago, near Milan]. At six am our driver took it to our painting factory in Cascina [about 320km away]. At eleven am the frame was ready and came back. We then finished the frame with the headset and bottom bracket, and now the driver is leaving for Aurillac [800km from Cambiago] where the team hotel is."
That means the bike will have already done the best part of 1500km before being ridden by Voeckler.
The C59 frame is custom for Voeckler: "It's a size 50 sloping but the top tube is one centimetre longer than our traditional frame," said Alessandro, who pointed to another of the bike's special features: "It's full yellow with a chicken on the seat tube."
The next few stages of the Tour should make it relatively easy for Voeckler and Europcar to defend the yellow jersey, but things might change in Thursday's 12th stage to Luz Ardiden which will see the true climbers come to the fore.
Voeckler, however, is hopeful that he can hang onto it for a bit longer. According to Alessandro: "He thought yesterday evening that his goal was to keep the jersey until Friday and try to finish the Tour in the first ten."