By Gregor Brown in Varese
German Jens Voigt is well known for his propensity for getting into breakaways, and has used this characteristic to take the yellow jersey in the Tour de France as well as win stages in 2001 and 2006. And while the Team CSC rider's victory in stage 18 of the Giro d'Italia was accomplished with the same kind of panache as these previous wins, his race winning move was launched from so far out that even his directeur sportif felt it was too soon.
The 36 year-old hard-man of cycling joined the breakaway before it left the 2009 world championship circuit in Mendrioso, just 12 kilometres into the stage, but he found himself in the company of so many strong riders that it would make winning difficult.
"When I went in the escape, I said 'Wow, I am in a good group.' I felt a little small with others there: [Paolo] Bettini, the world champion, [Giovanni] Visconti, maglia rosa and Italian Champion, [Gabriele] Bosisio, maglia rosa..." explained the talkative German, who took the victory on the same circuit that will be used for the 2008 World Championships.
"It was a good group. I sought not to lose morale with such a group," he stated honestly. Voigt's last famous escape came during the 2006 Tour de France, when he won a two-up sprint in a breakaway which gained 30 minutes on the peloton, beating eventual race winner Oscar Pereiro.
Coming into the final 40 kilometres, Voigt's group held a secure seven minute lead on the peloton, but he attacked his eleven companions even before the race entered the two laps of the 17.4 kilometre circuit in Varese.
Directeur Sportif Kim Anderson may have not agreed with the timing of the manoeuvre, but Voigt had two good reasons to stage such an outrageous coup: Paolo Bettini and three-time stage winner Daniele Bennati (Liquigas), the maglia ciclamino in this Giro d'Italia.