Voeckler’s yellow dream continues

Thomas Voeckler's mum flew into the Tour from Martinique today to find her son still wearing cycling

Thomas Voeckler’s mum flew into the Tour from Martinique today to find her son still wearing cycling

Thomas Voeckler prepared to extend his honeymoon period in the yellow jersey to four days on Sunday night after preserving his three-minute advantage over Stuart O’Grady on stage 8 of the 2004 Tour de France to Quimper. Voeckler retained his overall lead after finishing 58th behind stage winner Thor Hushovd on Sunday’s 168km stage from Lamballe to Quimper. Voeckler, born against the backdrop of the Vosges mountains in eastern France and raised in the French colony of Martinique in the Caribbean, had a special reason to celebrate his latest day at the top of the Tour pile. “My mother came over especially from Martinique for the prologue in Lige, and she was always due to come over for this stage,” said Brioches La Boulangre’s 25-year-old French national champion. “I don’t think, though, that when she booked her trip she imagined that I could be in yellow. Her being here makes me doubly happy.” Voeckler later paid tribute to his Brioches La Boulangre team-mates. Aided by Michele Scarponi’s Domina Vacanze, amongst others, Voeckler’s red and white brigade were quick to recognise the danger posed by CSC’s serial escapist, Jakob Piil. The Dane attacked with Matteo Tosatto (Fassa Bortolo) and Ronny Scholz (Gerolsteiner) after 20km and was caught with just 10km remaining on today’s 168km stage. This morning the Dane had lurked menacingly in fifth position on GC, just under seven minutes adrift of Voeckler. “I have had the jersey for three days now, and I honestly don’t know how much longer I’ll keep it,” Voeckler told the press tonight. “The rain made the race treacherous again and this made the finale very tense. Fortunately my team did a great job in reeling in Piil, who represented the biggest threat to my jersey.” Voeckler can now look forward to the first rest day of the Tour in Limoges tomorrow, when he will “train, rest and then satisfy the requests of the media. providing they want me. “Jean-Ren [Bernaudeau] is managing all of that,” grinned Voeckler tonight, referring to his Brioches La Boulangre team manager with the same boyish nonchalance which has made him, almost overnight, the darling of a nation. Twelve months ago Richard Virenque missed out on celebrating Bastille Day in the yellow jersey by 24 hours. Three days now separate Voeckler from a party which French cycling hasn’t seen since Laurent Jalabert’s marked the occasion with arguably his finest hour in Mende in 1995. Who would be the French housewife’s favourite then, eh, Richard?