Thomas Voeckler’s teeth-gritting defense of his Yellow Jersey in today’s Stage 18 of the 2011 Tour de France came at a price. Upon crossing the finish line and realizing that he had not allowed Andy Schleck to pry the Yellow Jersey from his shoulders, he raised his fist, but wobbled and nearly collapsed. For several minutes he straddled his bike, being attended to, ignoring the microphones that were stuck in his face. He had truly left it all on the road.
In our Stage 18 Wrap-Up, we compared it to Stephen Roche’s performance in the 1987 Tour de France, on the climb to la Plagne.
The backstory is terrific. Roche was trying to make up time on Pedro Delgado, and so had launched an attack with 100km to go in the stage. He even called upon potential future teammates for aid.
Delgado’s PDM team reeled in the move, though, and on the final climb Delgado distanced Roche. Roche’s story about his defense to limit his losses is terrific. Watch how he describes his chase of Delgado – “I just et the road,” as well as his reaction upon crossing the finish line. Next time you hear somebody mention “leaving it all on the road,” consider Roche’s performance.