Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) inched closer to securing a podium spot in Paris with a day of gutsy riding to claim the King of the Mountains jersey Wednesday.
Voeckler joined the day’s big, 38-rider breakaway, but attacked with Brice Feillu (Saur-Sojasun) up the Col du Tourmalet. The surge dropped previous KOM leader Fredrik Kessiakoff (Astana) and rival Chris Anker Sørensen (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank). Voeckler pocketed first-place points over the legendary climb (not to mention a 5,000 euro prime) and began to chip into Kessiakoff’s lead.
“At the start of the day, I really wouldn’t have believed that I was the ideal person to go on hunt for polka dot jersey,” Voeckler said. “I approached the race as if it were four different races, one to the top of each climb.”
Voeckler picked up first-place points over the day’s four rated climbs to take a slender 107-103 lead over Kessiakoff in the classification.
Kessiakoff was second up the Aubisque and fourth up the Tourmalet, but didn’t score any points at all in the final two climbs after the yellow jersey group passed him on the Col d’Aspin.
With six rated climbs on the menu tomorrow, nothing’s a wrap yet in the fight for the prestigious climber’s jersey.
The question will be who has the legs to try to make it into the breakaways after Wednesday’s four-climb monster.
“My priority will be to defend the climber’s jersey tomorrow,” Voeckler said. “Then my Tour will be over!”