By Les Clarke in Wanze
One of the most experienced riders at this year's Giro, Jens Voigt is also on the team of race favourite Ivan Basso, which can come with pressures - although Voigt didn't appear too stressed when Cyclingnews caught up with him at the start of the Giro's fourth stage.
Team CSC come as one of the favourites for the overall crown, and with Ivan Basso and Carlos Sastre on the roster they have the firepower for the mountains. In the early stages of the race the plan is to protect these riders, so is everything going according to plan so far? "I'd say more or less everything is going to plan," said Voigt. "The Discovery Channel team is also pretty strong; they've got half their Tour de France team here, so I guess we have some stiff competition.
"This Giro isn't easy, but I would say that at the moment, everything is going to plan," said Voigt, before he explained that CSC should be more competitive in 2006 than last year with Basso at full fitness and a strong squad attending. "We are optimistic that Ivan will be in great shape and will be able to get amongst the best riders there [at the Giro].
With Carlos Sastre, Basso and Bobby Julich riding in the team, CSC have three grand tour podium placegetters, something not many teams can boast - Voigt explained that Sastre's role goes beyond just climbing well. "Carlos is not only a strong rider but he's a very good climber and also our captain on the road; he brings calm to the team and he's like, 'you do it like this or that, and you are riding or you are waiting', so for sure it's an advantage to have Carlos here on the team," he said.
With so much at stake, a finish such as that of stage 3 in Namur could be dangerous for the team's chances - how did Voigt find the finish? "It would have been a lot nicer and easier without the rain!" he pointed out quickly. "It would have been a little less dangerous and a little more predictable, so on that day it was a case of the most daring guys going first and that climb was a little bit crazy. Like I said, in the sun it would've been a nice spectacular finish."
Stage 3 winner Stefan Schumacher showed he's a bright prospect for German cycling, something Voigt noticed with the 24-year-old's performance on the difficult finish. "After a difficult year last year he's now back on track - it looks like he's a huge talent and during his two years at T-Mobile they were unable to see the potential in him or get the best out of him," said Voigt.
"Now he's found a team where he's happy, he's just doing his thing and it looks like he's one of the future talents we can count on in Germany. He's a powerhouse, and not afraid of attacking; it's good to see the young guys coming through," he added.