Some people like Lance Armstrong, some people don’t. Everyone likes Thomas Voeckler. In 2004, Thomas Voeckler captured worldwide attention when he valiantly held on to the yellow jersey for 10 days. Voeckler exuded tenacity as he turned himself inside out to buy one more day in yellow. During that time, Voeckler even got to Mr. Armstrong himself. When Lance assumed the race lead, it was clear he felt like the school bully taking the jersey off the young Frenchman’s back. Voeckler did all this without actually winning a stage. By the end of that Tour, Voeckler lost Yellow as well as the White Jersey (best young rider) but won the hearts of the world.
Well, now the man with the ugliest climbing style has added a Tour de France stage win to his palmares. If the legend holds that a Frenchman who wore yellow will never have to buy dinner again in France, then Voeckler has guaranteed a check-free existence in that country for the remainder of his life.
Why do we like him so much? Well, for most of the world, his youthful look combined with his visible effort to while riding give him an everyman appeal. We like people like us as “Davids” competing in a race filled with “Goliaths.” He also never says the wrong thing or does the wrong thing. He is the quintessential good guy. The French like him because he does not win. We like him because he is not really French. He comes from the Caribbean island of Martinique.