Jens Voigt: “I still know how to do it”
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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Jens Voigt: “I still know how to do it”

by Kyle Moore at 6:37 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Paris-Nice
 
Radioshack-Nissan strong man barely misses Paris-Nice stage win

Jens VoigtWith youthful legs, and young at heart, Jens Voigt (Radioshack-Nissan) put both on display yet again, this time on stage six of Paris-Nice.

Voigt was a close second to Spanish all-rounder Luis Leon Sanchez (Rabobank) after the two got away from their breakaway group and held off the charging peloton into Sisteron.

The big German had helped spring the day’s initial breakaway, when he rode off with Frederik Veuchelen (Vacansoleil-DCM) and Simon Geschke (Project 1T4i). The trio was joined by Sanchez, Anthony Geslin (FDJ-BigMat), Mickael Cherel (Ag2R La Mondiale) and eventually by Dani Navarro (Saxo Bank), forming a break of seven.

“I had it in my mind to go on the attack today or tomorrow as I knew these were good stages made for a breakaway,” Voigt remarked on the team website. “Of course to win would have been the icing on the cake. But there was no funny business, no tricks - he just was better than me and that’s how it goes in cycling. I was pleased with my performance, but more than that I was pleased that I still know how to do it. I still can eye a situation and understand that it’s the right move.”

Sanchez, who has made a habit of taking big wins with his excessive power out of breakaways, was the first to push the pace as the finish line got closer. This put several in the breakaway into serious trouble, but Voigt encountered no issues at all.

Nearing the 10 kilometers to go mark, Voigt put in an acceleration of his own, which saw the end of Cherel and would force a two-man sprint for the win – Voigt, the 2005 Paris-Nice green jersey winner versus Sanchez, the 2009 overall champion.

After working together to ensure the peloton would not catch up, Voigt led out the sprint, and though it seemed the much quicker Sanchez would leave the 40-year-old in his dust, Voigt did not back down.

The German took solace in his second place finish by half a wheel-length.

“I can’t be disappointed,” he admitted. “To go away with six or seven strong riders and be able to go with Sanchez when he attacked on the final climb and be able to follow him to contest a sprint was good. He was just a little bit stronger than me and he beat me fair and square. Maybe he had a little less pressure on him or maybe it’s that he’s younger than me. Maybe I have to finally admit that age makes a difference.”

Hit by illness and down several men heading into the final weekend, team director Johan Bruyneel was more than pleased to see his heady veteran riding so well.

“We believed in it until the very end,” Bruyneel stated. “Above all I have to say ‘Chapeau! Chapeau!’ For a guy who is 40 years of age who is able to be so motivated from the start of the stage and then at the end keep the peloton well behind, it’s very impressive. He never saves himself, he’s always super motivated, doesn’t complain about anything, just races his bike and races to win.

“I don’t think the peloton miscalculated for GC, Sky always had that well under control. But the teams of the sprinters should have known that with guys like Luis Leon Sanchez and Jens Voigt out front, with one-and-a-half minutes advantage at 15 kilometers to go, it’s going to be difficult.”

With so few riders left, and faced with the prospect of more work to do, Voigt responded in a way that only he can.

“We only have five guys left. We have Maxime [Monfort] and he’s our GC guy so we’ll be protecting him. Then we have Markel [Irizar] who is like his personal bodyguard. So that only leaves ‘Schlecky,’ ‘Klodi’ and me and I guess probably it’s all up to me to cover the breaks since those guys are climbers. Those painful attacks will all be up to me I guess, but that’s what I’m here for.”

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