RadioShack Leopard's Jens Voigt proved he still has plenty of "go power" in his 41-year-old legs Thursday during Stage 5 of the Tour of California. The popular veteran rider jumped away from a select group 5km from the finish in Avila Beach and soloed to the second California stage win of his career.
Heavy crosswinds in the closing kilometers blew the field apart, and Voigt joined 17 other riders in a large lead group that included general classification favorites and a handful of sprinters. The savvy German waited for the right moment and then pounced while his breakaway companions were taking stock of each other.
"They know what my plan is, they know I can't win a sprint so I have to be alone," a jubilant Voigt said after the race. "You have to catch them by surprise. You gotta make sure they're busy watching each other - Sagan looks for Hushovd, Hushovd watches Tyler Farrar, and they just say, 'It's just old Jensie, we'll catch him back, he's going to die out there.'
"It played in my favor," Voigt continued. "Every now and then I still have a little go power, maybe not every day like five or 10 years ago, but once I'm out there and I can see and smell this victory, it's hard to get me away from it."
Try as they might, the chasers could never get back on terms with Voigt, who crossed the line six-seconds ahead of stage 4 winner Farrar (Garmin Sharp), Hushovd (BMC) and Sagan (Cannondale), respectively.
"That's just my talent," Voigt said. "I have a big engine and can handle a big workload. I'm not a top sprinter, not a top TT rider, not a top climber, just a big engine willing to work hard. I think I have this instinct for this, it's a talent I suppose.
"The decision is done in a split second," Voigt said of his audacious move. "When we turned around the corner and I saw the uphill - it is almost like a voice in your head saying 'go now, go now.'"
Is this killer instinct something that Voigt, who is rooming this week with 20-year-old Bob Jungels, can pass on to the next generation of riders on his team?
"I do try all the time to teach the boys to be brave, be courageous, stop holding back," Voigt said. "On Sunday night if you have energy left, it's too late. There's no other stage on Monday. So get it all out now. Don't be afraid."
Growing up in Missoula, Montana, Pat competed in his first bike race in 1985 at Flathead Lake before studying English and journalism at the University of Oregon. He has covered North American cycling extensively since 2009, as well as racing and teams in Europe and South America. Pat currently lives in the US outside of Portland, Oregon.
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