One of the peloton’s long-time favorites, Jens Voight, bid farewell to the Tour de France for the final time last weekend.
The affable German rider brought the curtain down on his 17-year affair with the race on Sunday, after riding in his final Tour.
"When I crossed the line in Paris, I rode a little further on and then sat down by the barriers to take everything in. I realised that I would never race again into Paris with so many people there to cheer us. That moment will never come back."
"I’m happy that I did the Tour, but I know I’m not as strong as I wanted to be," he said when asked to assess his performance over three weeks."
"The Tour has been one of the biggest chapters in my life and it’s closed now. I counted it the other day and I did 340 stages. I cut the ones out that I didn’t finish. That’s nearly a year of racing the Tour de France," he told the media.
Voight will wrap-up his career entirely, after riding in this year’s Tour of Utah and USA Pro Challenge later this summer, but not without mixed feelings.
"There’s some relief mixed in there because I know that the suffering is over. There are no more scary downhill sections or pain in riding but I’m also a little frightened by what the future will bring. There’s new pressure on me because I’ve got my family and six kids to feed so I need to make sure I’m out there working."
However, after finishing this year’s Tour de France, Voigt recognized that it was time to retire – accepting that he’s no longer the rider at the height of his ability.
"The Tour was particularly hard this year with the weather and the crashes. I’m glad that I got to race it one more time but I’m also happy that I don’t have to go back because I realize that my body has slowed down. I couldn’t catch the breakaways like I wanted to or like how I used to. When I was younger and stronger, there were times when I could make things happen and if I wanted to be in the break I could just do it. There was some luck and in all of that but it was getting harder and harder and my body just wasn’t responding to the challenge in the way that I wanted to."
Still, Voight gave spectators one last thrill, when he succeeded in riding clear of the peloton during the opening lap of Sunday’s final stage along the Champs Elysees.
"I think a few people expected that I would show myself off the front, like it was me against the peloton one last time. It wasn’t a gift though. I had to go full gas and make it happen. There was some talk about the bunch letting me lead onto the Champs Elysees but it was clear to me that it wasn’t going to just happen. Plus I didn’t want a present. All my life I didn’t get gifts, if I wanted something I had to work for it."
"There’s a whole bunch of mixed emotions but the glass is half full so instead of crying because it’s over I’ll smile because it happened."
You must be logged in to post a comment.