Continuing to look in depth at the teams that will be taking part in this years Tour de France. Today it is looking at the somewhat surprise package from last year that almost put a Frenchman on the final podium for the first time since 1997.
Thomas Voeckler was ahead of the race last year on the stage that the TV car took out Johnny Hoogerland and Juan Antonia Flecha. But he was one of the three who stayed on their bikes and away to the line. Coming second on the stage was enought to give him a lead of 1'49" over fellow break survivor Luis Léon Sanchez but 2'26" over the first of the favourites Cadel Evans. He then held his yellow jersey through the Pyrénées and Alps until the slopes of the last Mountain Alpe d'Huez, when his legs gave up and his loyal lieutenant was also to take his own glory.
Pierre Rolland stuck by his team leader in yellow through all the Mountain passes often pulling him back when it looked like he was about to lose it. But finally on the stage to Alpe d'Huez his leader knew he was unable to keep up with those that were challenging him and young Rolland then 24 was given his wings. In the end he secured his first stage win in a Grand Tour seeing off Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez and Alberto Contador. It also secured him the white jersey for best young rider and a top 10 spot, both of which he defended on the following day's time trial.
Anthony Charteau was the 2010 King of the Mountains in the Tour. With Rolland he was shepharding Voeckler through the mountains last year. He is a three time winner of the Tropicale Amissa Bongo a stage race in Gabon which he defended for a second time earlier this year.
Damien Gaudin the 25-year-old has recently moved from the track where he was a two time individual pursuit and madison French champion. It suggests that he may be a threat on the opening prologue as well as have potential in sprint finishes.
Cyril Gautier another able young rider. Was the European U23 Champion in 2008 and best young rider ealier this year in the Critérium Intenational
Yukiya Arashiro in 2009 Arashiro became the first Japanese rider to be complete the Tour along with Fumiyuki Beppu. When he completed the Giro in 2010 he became the first Japanese cyclist to finish two Grand Tour events. He is a domestique for the team but was national champion in 2007 and Asian champion last year.
Giovanni Bernaudeau his major success was coming 2nd in the U23 Paris-Tours in 2004 but he is here to ride for the leader he completed the Giro d'Italia in 2005.
Yohann Gène has won stages in each of the last three Tropicale Amissa Bongo he was also the points winner in this years event.
Christophe Kern was the French Time Trial champion in 2011 as well as winning Stage 5 of the Critérium du Dauphiné.