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Voigt calling it quits after USA Pro Challenge

Trek Factory Racing's Jens Voigt confirmed to Cyclingnews on Sunday that the upcoming USA Pro Challenge in Colorado August 18-24 will be his last professional race.

"I think my fan base is almost the biggest here in the US, so why not finish here?" Voigt, 42, told Cyclingnews before the start of the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah, where he is competing this week. "Of course, if the team is in need of some riders for some races, I can jump in and still help out. But the plan is that this would be sort of like comng to an end here."

North American fans will not only get their final opportunities to cheer for Voigt over the next several weeks, they'll also have an opportunity to join Voigt in one of his favorite past times: geocaching.

"Since I am a big geocaching fan, I made some special coins and I'm going to hide them somewhere," Voigt said. "They say 'USA Pro Challenge 2014, goodbye and thank you, Jens Voigt.' So I'm going to hide a few of them, maybe throw a Trek shirt or Trek jersey in there, or maybe a race number from the Tour de France. We're going to hide them somewhere during, before or after the stages, and hopefully fans can go and find them and keep them as a souvenir."

The gesture is a way for Voigt to thank the fans that he says have supported him throughout his nearly 20-year career, which includes 29 pro wins and 17 appearances in the Tour de France. Voigt said he still has a pile of more than 2,500 fan emails that his team printed out for him while he was in the hospital recovering from a serious crash in the 2009 Tour.

"The fans have been a strong part of supporting me for all of my career and helped me also to go through some tougher times," he said. "So I really feel I owe them for supporting me for all these years, and I'm really happy that they stood by my side."

Voigt suggested fans continue to encourage him by yelling "Shut Up legs," one of his more famous one liners. And he also said they should look for the "crazy, stupid" tactics he has been known for.

"There's no need to save energy anymore," he said. "I can throw it out whenever I want, just see what our tactics say and what the plan is for the team. If I get the freedom to go, I'll definitely want to go out and show my face, and hopefully, yeah, try to grab a stage win somehow."

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Growing up in Missoula, Montana, Pat competed in his first bike race in 1985 at Flathead Lake. He studied English and journalism at the University of Oregon and 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, with his imaginary dog Rusty.