By Hedwig Kröner
A freshly-showered Jens Voigt, came out of his team bus late following Thursday's stage four finish of Paris-Nice, after having again put in one of the solo kamikaze attacks the tall German is famous for. He told Cyclingnews, "Well, you know, I have to do something for my image!" The CSC rider was part of the day's four-man breakaway, but went on his own with 16 kilometres to go, just at the foot of the Mont Ventoux climb in Malaucène.
"We had a real chance for winning – just one minute more and it could have ended differently," he said, not too disappointed with himself after finishing 15th on the line. The equally famous mountain ate away his lead of three and a half minutes, until the general classification riders and pure climbers overtook him with two kilometres to go.
"When I attacked the group at the foot of the climb, I believed I could make it. I only lost 30 seconds in the first five kilometres of the ascent. So I told myself I could possibly do it, just looking at it mathematically. But with five kilometres to go, I just couldn't resist anymore, and the guys behind put down the hammer for the finale..." By then, Voigt almost seemed to pedal backwards, as they say, but still gave his bike a ferociously stubborn grind to finish a very respectable 1'47" behind the winner, Cadel Evans.
Today was the first "satisfying" test of the season for the German all rounder, who takes pride in still being able to pull off these kind of stunts. "I mean, I'm 36 years old, but I still have what it takes to get in the right break, and the power to push through to the end. If the GC riders had waited a bit longer for their final moves I could have made it. Of course I'm a bit disappointed, but I had enough time to get over that as I knew with five clicks to go that this would be a slow death... Now, I see it as a positive unfolding of my form."
Speaking of which – with one of Voigt's dearest races coming up, the Critérium International, the CSC rider will do everything he needs to defend his 2007 title. "That race will be shorter than Paris-Nice, so that's more my cup of tea!," he added, looking forward to the event he has won already three times. "I really like Critérium International, it's short but sharp, exactly my kind of thing."