Jens Voigt avoids abandoning Tour de France with help from kid's bike
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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Jens Voigt avoids abandoning Tour de France with help from kid's bike

by Bjorn Haake at 10:50 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France, Injury
Rides over 15km on mini bike with toe clips to reach spare bike

Jens VoigtJens Voigt crashed hard on Tuesday's stage, in the descent of the Col de Peyresourde. With the team cars long gone and his front tire exploded, the German fought hard to not being picked up by the broom wagon, ready to give the German a lift. Determined to reach Paris this year, he borrowed a kid's bike for around 15 kilometers, until he reached his spare bike.

Voigt recalled the mayhem of the post crash frenzy on the rest day. "By the time you get up and your brain starts working again, I realized that all the team cars had passed me and there would be nobody there to help me," he told Sporza in an interview. The driver of the broom wagon was ready to pick up Voigt. "He asked me 'Do you want to come in?', but I said 'No, no, I want to get to Paris - give me some sort of bike!'"

Voigt's bike was totaled. "The frame was broken, the derailleur was broken, the front wheel was broken - there was nothing you could fix there anymore."

Rescue came through one of the special events that accompany the race. "I think there is this children's program where they do part of the Tour de France stages. One of those cars came by and they gave me one of their bikes." The bike was painted yellow and equipped with good old fashioned toe clips. "It was way too small for me, it didn't fit with my pedal system and it didn't really work the way I wanted it to work," Voigt said. "But it was something to move and I took the chance," Voigt added, happy that he was able to continue the race.

Voigt had to start chasing the gruppetto on his unusual setup. "Obviously I didn't have a computer, but I think it was between 15 and 20 kilometers that I did on that bike."

After abandoning last year's race after a crash, this year such a small mishap would not stop Voigt. "I was determined to go to Paris and I would not let anything come in-between Paris and me this year. I didn't want to have to abandon twice in a row - nobody needs that."

His team car was still way ahead, but his manager Bjarne Riis had eventually found out what happened, asking a policeman for help. "He told him 'Hey listen, I give you this bike. One of my riders crashed, he will come by here in ten minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, you give him this bike - he needs this bike.'" The plan worked out well. "I then met the policeman and exchanged bikes," Voigt said matter-of-factly.

He reached Pau with the last big group, a little over a half hour after the winner. Now he only has to nurture his injuries and survive one more day in the mountains, before rolling into Paris on Sunday. "I have a lot of bruises and road rash everywhere. My team doctor stitched together my left elbow with five stitches. My back and my ribs are actually hurting quite a bit. That will be the hardest for me [on Thursday]. But I still want to go the Paris."

No question Voigt can achieve this goal. And without hesitation there was also no question for him who would win the Tour this year. "Andy Schleck of course."


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