Criterium International: Voigt speaks about his fight for stage victory
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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Criterium International: Voigt speaks about his fight for stage victory

by VeloNation Press at 4:39 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Critérium International
German said he had to attack far out on opening stage

Jens VoigtJens Voigt started today’s first stage of the Critérium International determined to try to land a record sixth edition but, with the race taking place on hillier terrain than when he won it in the past, he knew that it would take something special to beat the pure climbers.

Because of that, he played his cards a long way out from the finish, jumping ahead to bridge to an earlier breakaway group, then pressing on ahead alone. It was a gamble, a crazy display, and one that ultimately proved unsuccessful.

Still, he said afterwards that he had to try. “When I attacked with 90km to go I knew it was going to be very long. But I know myself. With the hills like this and a tough final climb I probably can't win. So I have to be already ahead,” he told VeloNation’s Bjorn Haake. “I quickly came up to the break and I thought either it works or it doesn't. If nobody reacts behind I can win with three minutes. If they ride behind me it will be hard - but hard is good for the Schleck brothers. They can stay calmly in the wheels and then go for the win. That was the idea. Of course you also have to put a good idea into reality, that doesn't always work.”

A major complicating factor was the long climb at the finish. Although Voigt has shown in the past that he is able to go up mountains quickly when in top form – such as when he won the Deutschland Tour, for example – he is older now and those performances were due in part to the strong form he carried out of the Tour de France.

Still, he pushed on ahead convinced that he could do something. “Of course I believed that I could win my sixth CI when I was in the break,” he explained. “When I passed the 40km to go mark, at the next-to-last KOM, I had almost three minutes

“I would have needed better legs for the final climb, though. It went well in the beginning. I was quickly up to the break, but then realized they weren't strong enough anymore. They were not helping me so I left them behind at the next-to-last climb.”

At that point in time, Voigt’s telling of the stage details was interrupted by stage winner Frank Schleck, who embraced his Leopard Trek team-mate. It showed the close bond within the team. Voigt was very happy with the result, reasoning that if he couldn’t win, it was very good that his friend could do so. “You did that superbly, that is how I imagined it,” he said. “Congratulations.”

“I knew it was going to be long and painful,” he continued then, returning to his account of his own stage-winning efforts. “But we didn't have anything to lose. We are here with a team to do something, so we can't say we will wait for the last one and a half kilometres. Sometimes you have to risk something, it can be something really big sometimes.”

Schleck holds a sixteen second lead over Vasil Kiryienka (Team Movistar) and a 22 second advantage over Rein Taaramäe (Cofidis). David Lopez (Team Movistar) is the only other rider within a minute of the leader, handed the team a strong chance of winning. However the race isn’t over; Voigt and the others will have to work hard during tomorrow’s road stage, and then Schleck will have to perform well in the afternoon time trial.

Whatever happens, Voigt said that today’s showing is proof that both of the Schlecks are on course for a strong ride in the Ardennes Classics.

“Don't forget that it is pretty much exactly a month to Liège, so the guys have to be at 90 -92 percent of their form. They can be at 100% in one month,” he smiled.


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