Hard work and humour combine in German veteran
Jens Voigt is a hard man on the bike, but a self-confessed “mega-softy” at home.The German discussed a variety of issues in answering fan questions on the Leopard Trek team website.
“All day long I walk around with a sword, shield and armour, ready to fight whatever comes across. That’s professional cycling,” he said. “When you’re home, you want to drop it all and open up to your family. I don’t like fighting at home. I want harmony at home.”
The 39-year-old is no softie on the bike, though. What does he think when he makes tempo pulling the peloton along for endless kilometers? "Sometimes you think: why me? And on a good day, you think: Yeah, I’m going to make everybody behind me suffer like hell!”
When he first started, though, “I had no idea of how good I was. That’s why I wanted to become professional: to see how far I could get. I tried everything, to see what suited me best: the mountains, the sprints, the breakaways, etc. When I discovered I was an all-rounder, I tried to maximise my efficiency in that.”
Many fans know him for his breakaways, and the “most epic” one “was Paris-Bourges in 2003. I was out of contract at that time, so I didn’t have high hopes, nor big motivation. The race was on a Thursday and I remember we partied until really late on the Monday, in Toulouse. And on Wednesday we did some training and after 5 minutes I stopped at a coffee shop and told the boys I would wait for them there. The next day, in the race , I got dropped at least three times. But I got myself together, jumped across to the breakaway and won the race. That was pretty cool.”
Voigt has also had his share of wins, and the one of which he is proudest is his win in the sixth stage of the 2006 Tour of Germany, an uphill finish. “I was riding in the yellow jersey in my home country, but I got dropped with 3K to go. Just when I was about to lose all hope I got back to the group with one kilometre to go, I took the front and won the sprint.”.
He is also known for some spectacular crashes, and resulting injuries. His solution for dealing with the mental recovery from such traumatic experiences is an “old-fashioned” one, he admitted. “I’m pretty old fashioned in this: I just push the bad experience in the darkest corner of my mind and bury it there.”
Voigt is not yet ready to retire from racing, but knows that someday he will have stop riding and do something else. He is as optimistic and easy-going on that subject as on all others. “My ideal plan is still to open a coffee/book shop, but I don’t believe I can feed my family with only that, so logically I think I would stay in cycling. Let’s be honest, I’m not going to become a rocket scientist anymore... I could be a sports director. Or help out with the sponsoring or hospitality of a team. Who knows? Lot’s of possibilities.”
Cycling is “all about dedication, discipline, hard work, but you are also going to experience camaraderie, friendship and the unbeatable feeling of achieving something together with your team,” he summed up.
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