Jens Voigt with yet another battle for the ages in the Tour de France
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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Jens Voigt with yet another battle for the ages in the Tour de France

by Kyle Moore at 5:00 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
affable German fights back after being dropped to contest stage ten finish

Jens VoigtPutting his distinctive, tenacious style on display yet again, this time in stage ten of the Tour de France, Jens Voigt (Radioshack-Nissan) enthralled his legions of fans with an impressive display out of the breakaway. The 40-year-old German got into the day’s main escape with team-mate Yaroslav Popovich but was assumed to be out of contention on the high mountain stage after being dropped on the Col du Grand Colombier with more than 50km to race.

But Voigt battled back, away from the pictures of French television, chasing down a leading quartet of Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD), Luis Leon Sanchez (Rabobank), and Dries Devenyns (Omega Pharma-Quick Step).

Down the Grand Colombier, up the Col de Richemond, and halfway down the final climb, Voigt kept his tempo high before making the quartet a quintet inside the final ten kilometres. Taking perhaps a whole ten seconds to recover from the chase, he was soon off again, putting the four men under pressure and forcing them to chase.

The work ultimately added up, and combined with the strain of an uphill finish, proved too much for the Radioshack-Nissan rider. Voeckler took the stage ahead of Scarponi, but Voigt managed to come home third, ahead of Sanchez and Devenyns.

“As you could see, everyone was pretty much dead in the last kilometres,” Voigt proclaimed at the finish. “We had some slow motion attacks there at the end, and everyone was on the limit. It was a hard day.”

After the tough day, Voigt gave the full break down in comments on the team website. “We had to fight hard to get this group going in the first place and then it was really full gas all day long,” he explained. “On the first really big climb of the Tour [the Col du Grand Colombier], I was suffering there. After that climb I could smell that the guys in my group were a little more dead than me so it was ‘make it or break it time’ - go full gas and catch the leaders or explode completely. Fortunately I caught them and could recover a little bit before I tried to go again. I was missing a little bit of strength at the end. But it was a good performance for me and we gained a little more time in the team classification.”

Having already ridden many kilometres on the front in support of Fabian Cancellara during his stint in yellow, Voigt tried to keep pace with the pure climbers out of the break on the first hors catégorie climb of the race. The task was too much, but as usual, he did not give up.

“I swear I was on the limit. I could hardly focus on the wheel in front of me,” Voigt stated. “I was just in a tunnel of pain and trying to keep on the wheel. Then we had the descent and at the bottom of that I could breathe better and figure out more of my strategy. The final climb [the Col de Richemond] was not so steep and was good for me. I decided to go in with everything I had. If I exploded and finished nowhere, well, okay. But I caught them, recovered a bit, played some poker, and finished third.

“Most [guys] try to ride easier and not try so many crazy, stupid things like me. But that’s my image and I try to stick to that. I can officially declare that I’m not covering the breaks tomorrow. I am taking the day off. I will listen to my tired, poor body. Well, let’s say I’ll be less aggressive.”

Ironically, the German hard man said he still feels the need to prove he belongs in the biggest bike race in the world.

“It’s good to prove to yourself that your body still functions, that it isn’t luck that you were selected to ride the Tour de France but that you deserved it,” he admitted. “And that you are still a good team member and can do the job that the team expects. Yeah, I’m a little proud.”

It was a mixed day overall for Radioshack-Nissan, as Haimar Zubeldia, Maxime Monfort, Frank Schleck, and Andreas Kloden all held their positions in the general classification. But Tony Gallopin is suffering with stomach issues and lost his 13th place overall, after finishing in the grupetto, almost 32 minutes down.

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