Participation in a break turned into an impressive solo stage win for RADIOSHACK NISSAN TREK’s Jens Voigt in the USA Pro Challenge as he attacked on the climb of 3686m/12095ft Independence Pass to stay away for more than 146km/90mi to arrive in Beaver Creek with almost three minutes to the next finishers. The effort by 40-year old Voigt was his first big win since stage 4 in the 2010 Volta a Catalunya.
Jens Voigt: “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!’ 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.”
Voigt wasn’t the only team rider feeling strong on Thursday in the USA Pro Challenge. Andreas Klöden, 37, sprinted in for second place on the stage, an effort that moved him into the top ten on the classification at 17-seconds behind race leader Tejay Van Garderen of BMC.
Andreas Klöden: “At 20k to go we knew Jens would win. I felt good today on the climbs so I saw the chance to do a short sprint at the end. It was a little hard because it was uphill but the path opened up and I just went for the line. Our sponsors RADIOSHACK, NISSAN and TREK give us so much. This is only a small thing that we can give back since our season has not been as good as we had hoped. But we had good morale all day and to see Jens do such a good race today really lifted our spirits. I will have to check the GC now as I look for the Saturday and Sunday stages to move up and maybe be in the top five here in Colorado.” The race continues through Sunday with the final stage an individual time trial in Denver.
Team Director Lars Michaelsen added: “It’s extraordinary what Jens did today. Only a few guys in the peloton are capable of doing this. He’s an inspiration for everybody: for Alain Gallopin and me in the car, for the young riders, for every rider in the peloton. You need the physics to do it but also the fighting spirit and the angriness to achieve this. After only twelve km, with just a 20 second gap, he was determined to go for it, and of course he made the right decision. This is so nice.”
Last May at the Amgen Tour of California Voigt earned a second place position in the time trial and noted that perhaps it would be the last time in his career that he’d be on a podium. Today’s effort clearly put that concern to rest.
Voigt: “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.
“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.”