Pau to Bagnères-de-Luchon (197 kilometers)
“I can’t really figure out what I’ve done. It’s the kind of thing I watched on television as a kid, and today it was me who did it.
Thomas “le chou chou” Voeckler
Thomas Voeckler’s exploits across the Pyrenees yesterday prompted us to illustrate Le Chou Chou as the Le Roi de France looking upon the cycling public and his fellow racers with his very own Pyrenean Crown perched upon his head. Yes, his visage is a bit bumptious but we must remember to win a stage is grand, two grand-er but to make such a late surge to capture the polka dot jersey across the toughest of Pyrenean peaks is arguably grand-est!
To the Heroes, he deserves such a coronation. Yes he climbs every mountain, including the first of the day, like a man wrestling with a machine that he can barely propel, but propel the bike he does. Try to name another 150 lb cyclist from France who has dominated the headlines of the Tour since his yellow jersey exploits in 2004. Few come to mind. We are not so sure the real Le Chou Chou would wear a crown of gold celebrating the Circle of Death, as Mr. Voeckler still seems like a 10 year old kid watching the tour on a fuzzy television set in Martinique.
Of course Mr. Voeckler is not ten but 33 years old and riding out his prime with panache that we want and expect from the Tour de France’s toughes stages. So we pardon his tongue and his physical protestations, for when he steps off the bike his boyish enthusiasm and earnest surprise are a joy to watch.