Voigt sets goals for 2010, including Tour de France return
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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Voigt sets goals for 2010, including Tour de France return

by Conal Andrews at 10:01 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling

German hardman Jens Voigt has set two big goals for the forthcoming season: taking an absolute record number of victories in the Criterium International, and making a successful return to the Tour de France following his bad crash this year.

"It was great winning the Criterium International for the fifth time,” he said, looking back at the event where he took a stage, the points and mountains classification plus the overall victory. “Only the French legend, Raymond Poulidor, has done the same and I will certainly go for the sixth victory in the 2010 season.

“In addition, I am happy about the beautiful 2009 Tour de France, where Team Saxo Bank took three stage wins and second place overall. My definite goal is to be selected for the Tour de France line-up in 2010, where I hope and believe that I will be back in peak shape. I do not want to end my Tour de France's participation with a crash.”

Voigt rode with characteristic aggression in this year’s race, but had a bad crash on the descent of the Col du Petit-Saint-Bernard during stage 16. Captured on live TV, the accident showed the German rider hit the road at high speed, his eyewear shattering and splintering dramatically as he skidded down the tarmac. He suffered various injuries including a fracture of the right cheekbone and concussion, but fortunately has made a full recovery.

He’s expected to be in fighting form again in 2010. Voigt knows that things could have turned out much worse, and is glad to have his health. “The crash on the descent during the Tour was ugly in many ways,” he said. “Most active athletes know that a six-week break in the mid-season can make you crazy and restless inside. But the incident had a more profound influence on me. With all the alternative impacts the crash could have provided in mind, I have been grateful for even being able to recognize my wife and children, to be able to walk and to live a life without permanent injuries. That is the most important issue for me and my family. Everyday life functions again…I enjoy the off-season and being at home, where my kids have made endless lists of activities for us to do before the races begin again.”

Voigt was fortunately able to return to racing before the end of the season, and this will help him as he builds form for what will be perhaps his final year in the professional ranks. He resumed competition in September in the Tour of Missouri, then rode the Giro del Piemonte, the Giro di Lombardia and the Japan Cup. Showing typical selflessness, the 38 year old helped team-mate Chris Anker Sørensen to triumph in the latter.

Sørensen is one of many riders who are returning in 2010, yet there will also be notable changes. A number of Saxo Bank regulars are heading elsewhere, while several new competitors are coming to the team. He’ll get a chance to meet the latter soon.

"We have had to say goodbye to good friends and old acquaintances on the team like Kurt-Asle and Karsten Kroon, Lars Bak and Marcus Ljungqvist,” he stated, “but in return we get to welcome several new riders who are just waiting for the proper development.

“Baden Cooke for instance, is a strong rider who, among other victories, has won the point classification in the Tour de France. External factors have held him back in the last few years. I am looking forward to watching him unfolding his talent and I am looking forward to working with the new aspiring riders.”

The Saxo Bank squad will get together at the end of the month for its famous survival camps. Consigning the riders to long stints in the wilderness tests them physically and mentally, but also helps to forge strong bonds and to underline the value of team-work and co-operation. Voigt sounds flippant when he talks about the camps, but also testifies as to their values.

"Of course, I am looking forward to days without food or sleep with nocturnal walks in complete darkness. Who wouldn't?” he says, with characteristic dry humour. “When you are standing freezing, hungry and tired in the middle of a dark forest without knowing where you are, it seems difficult to see the point of anything.

“But these "stupid" hikes still serve a relevant and important purpose. It brings the team closer together and we learn to know each other and work together with our differences as a strength. That is highly relevant when we work so closely together as a team and is a great tool of welcoming new riders to the team. And when the camp is over you leave like after so many other successfully overcome challenges in life with a larger luggage of readiness and confidence.”

Two things are guaranteed at the camps and, for that matter, also during the 2010 season. Voigt will lap up the challenges, knuckling down to the task at hand and fighting against the obstacles. The second is that he will be an energetic, motivated and somewhat-zany part of a team which benefits greatly from his attitude, humour and hyperactive work output.


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