“Shut up legs.”
“I get paid to make other people suffer.”
“Oooh this is gonna hurt.”
All these Jens Voigt‘ sayings were running in our mind as we watched him take the win – the hard way – on stage 4 at the USA Pro Challenge earlier today. The 40-, almost 41-, year old Radioshack-Nissan rider attacked the early break within the first 20 kilometers of the 156-km stage and never looked back.
“Once in awhile I can almost see a video clip running in my mind that shows me how things will be. Today I was in the break and I could see it all happening. I saw myself attacking and never being seen again. I told myself ‘Go now!’” Voigt said.
And he went and held on to the finish in Beaver Creek. But it wasn’t easy by any means, the road ahead of him included the climb over the 3,686 m Independence Pass, crosswinds and rain, the Continental Divide at Tennessee Pass (3,177 m) and the four-km kicker to the finish.
Voigt continued, “With the rain, all the uphill, the downhill, wind, whatever else was happening to make the race sticky and nasty – I knew it was affecting the others more than me. It paid off in the end and I’m more than happy with this win. I was nervous until I saw the 1k to go banner but my director Lars Michaelsen came up to me then and told me I still had five minutes. So I slowed down a little bit, tried to relax and waved to the crowd. I was just soaking up the emotions.”
He had plenty of time to soak up the emotions, waving to fans lining the road, pumping his fist before raising both hands for the victory salute in front of a loudly cheering crowd. Voigt’s teammate Andreas Klöden took second place, and Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing Team) was third, as the peloton finished two minutes and 58 seconds later. By finishing ahead of Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Sharp), van Garderen reclaimed the yellow jersey.
Though Voigt’s last victory was at the Rund um die Wittenberger Altstadt in Germany in May 2011, his last big win was at stage 4 in the 2010 Volta a Catalunya.
“I tried to make my own destiny today. I’m about 20 days short of turning 41 and I want to keep walking the walk and talking the talk. Today was a moment I could give it my best one more time. It was painful but very enjoyable.”
Three days ago, when Voigt renewed his contract with the Radioshack-Nissan team for one more year, he stated that he hoped to finish the season on a nice note. I’d say this was a very nice note.
Voigt concluded, “I think I earned this win the hard way. I knew if I had two minutes at the top of Independence Pass that they would never see me again. I was trying not to get ahead of myself and think about the win and stay focused on my ride. I did have to say ‘Shut Up, Legs!’ a few times, but I am just really happy. I call this the Indian Summer of my career, not the Winter. I still receive enormous satisfaction out of helping the boys win. I like looking after them and delivering them to the bottom of a climb in a good position. Then later when they come and say thank you to me, well, that just makes my day.”
For his efforts, Voigt was awarded the Most Aggressive jersey.