Jens Voigt, the popular Grand Tour veteran and stalwart ProTeam rider, told media assembled for the Tour of Utah pre-race press conference that he plans to race for one more year through the 2013 season. The 40-year-old Radioshack-Nissan rider said his recent performance at the Tour de France, where he finished third on stage 10, convinced him to go on.
"This year, not every race I was in perfect condition or shape," he told Cyclingnews. "So I sort of doubted myself a little bit, like am I losing it? Should I stop? Is it not there anymore? But then I did a good Tour de France and it showed me that if it's important, if the pressure is there, I can still perform. If I am needed and people rely on me, I can still do it."
Voigt's early season lapses caused a little bit of doubt to creep into his confidence, but taking second at the Tour of California time trial boosted his morale. Then he initiated the early breakaway on the Mt. Baldy stage before launching teammate Chris Horner on an all-day adventure off the front.
"This year would have been the first year where I would say, 'Look, 70 percent yes, I'm gonna do the Tour, 30 percent maybe not," Voigt said. "In the past I would have said, 'Of course I'm going to do the Tour. Of course, what a question. But this year I didn't really know. I believed I had a chance, a fair chance, but it wasn't a given, it wasn't 100 percent. But at California, it looked like I'm good in the mountains and my time trialing. I'm still there. I could still be good for the team."
And being good for the team is now good enough for the rider who has won three stages at the Tour de France, worn yellow twice and helped lift Carlos Sastre - at team CSC-Saxo Bank - to the stop step podium in 2008.
"Ten years ago I would have said I wanted to win a stage in the Tour or take the yellow jersey," Voigt said. "But this year I decided for me it will be a great Tour when at the night in Paris people tap me on the shoulder and go, 'Jensie, thanks that you were there. You were a great part of the team, a valuable part of what we achieved. Thanks for being there.' This year that was my definition of a good Tour. So your priorities change a little bit. You're not so much a winner anymore, but more like a worker, a mentor, a mascot."
Despite joking that he has to keep riding because he has a wife and six kids at home, Voigt said he would have called it quits if he felt too burned out and couldn't contribute anymore.
"The last thing you want is finishing your career with people standing behind your back saying, 'That's Jensie. Yeah, he was a good one before, but he missed his moment,'" Voigt said. "You don't want that. You don't want to ruin your career in the last year by hanging on too long."
Voigt said he has been considering several teams for next season but has not yet made up his mind about where he will ride.
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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.