German goes on the attack at Dauphiné
Jens Voigt has described the possibility of riding the Tour de France in his final season as an honour but admitted that he is far from certain of his slot among Trek Factory Racing’s final roster.
Voigt, 42, will close out his long racing career at the end of the year but is keen to ensure that he remains competitive throughout his final campaign.
“If you do the Tour you want to it in good condition. You want to be part of the team and want to be able to do the work and bring the performance that the team expects of you. At the moment I’m not so sure if I have it. As much as I hate to say it I wish I could be ten per cent stronger,” Voigt told Cyclingnews at the Critérium du Dauphiné.
“The Tour has a pretty intense start. The second stage, even after that a few guys will say goodbye to their GC plans. Then there’s the Roubaix stage so you can only go to the Tour if you’re 100 per cent healthy and ready. As far as I see it we have seven or eight riders for the final five places and we’ll see what happens in the next couple of weeks. Until then we keep racing and keep our fingers crossed.
“It would be an honour to be selected. It’s not just a race but an adventure and to be part of it one more time, I would be proud.”
Trek’s final nine for the grand depart in Leeds will depend on results in this week’s Dauphiné and Tour de Suisse, which starts on Saturday. Both Andy and Frank Schleck with use the latter as their warm-up but Voigt shared his personal thoughts on how the team’s selection may fall.
“These are just my personal thoughts but we have two who are sure in [Fabian] Cancellara and Fränk Schleck. Then we have two others who are very sure in Matthew Busche and Haimar Zubeldia and then I think we have seven guys for five places. That’s just my thoughts,” Voigt told Cyclingnews.
While Fränk Schleck is currently the team’s strongest bet for a GC bid, his younger brother Andy is still in search of form. Historically the pair have raced well together at the Tour and asked if he thought Andy would make the Tour team, Voigt replied:
“There’s still a chance. He’s doing the Tour de Suisse which starts this Sunday but as I said apart from those four nobody knows and I don’t know even if our bosses have made up their minds.”
Voigt certainly didn’t do his chances of a Tour slot any harm with an attack on stage 3 of the Dauphiné. The German led a swift counter move in the closing stages but was reeled in before Nikias Arndt (Team Giant-Shimano) took the win.
Trek had looked to set up Giacomo Nizzolo for the stage but the Italian crashed out of the race. Luckily he escaped serious injury and although his jersey and shorts were ripped to shreds he was able to join his teammates after the stage.
The loss of the Italian mid-race meant that the team had to refocus and with their sprinter out Voigt went on the offensive.
“Today the plan was to go for Giacomo Nizzolo our sprinter and that’s why we put Hayden Roulston and then Markel Irizar up there. Then, more or less when I started riding and we swapped positions we heard that Nizzolo crashed and was forced to stop the race,” Voigt said.
Voigt joined forces with Yaroslav Popovych when the early three man break was caught, with the German using his teammate to spring clear of the field.
“In the end Popovych looked at me after we caught the break and said ‘you should go.’ I said ‘yeah, I thought about it.’ He gave me a smile and said ‘follow me.’ Then he did the first acceleration for me, swung off, and set me up for the break. At least we tried to show our faces after Giacomo was forced to stop.”
Voigt and the seven riders who joined the escape were caught in with seven kilometres remaining but the Trek team will look towards the final few days of the race as opportunities to attack.
“They way we see the race is that today was probably the only day for a full bunch sprint. From tomorrow we have to follow a new plan maybe we’ll go out all guns firing or we’ll save it for another day. We’re still trying to achieve something. Firstly to keep the top ten for Zubeldia and then to go into breaks and try to force our luck with a top three on a stage or a win.”
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