AVILA BEACH, Calif. (VN) — The move he pulled in stage 5 of the Amgen Tour of California on Thursday is the same one Jens Voigt has been pulling since the Pleistocene — according to the German himself — and yet it just keeps working.
“I’ve done that move, basically, since many, many years. Almost since the last ice age I’ve been doing the same move,” said a jovial Voigt (RadioShack-Leopard) after he won in Avila Beach with a late attack from a waning breakaway.
“Sometimes, like in Colorado [2012 USA Pro Challenge], I do it with 140 kilometers to go, and today, with five to go. They know what my plan is. They know I cannot win a sprint. They know I have to be alone. You’ve got to catch them by surprise. They watch each other,” said the oldest rider in the pro peloton. “Peter Sagan looks at [Thor] Hushovd; Hushovd looks at Tyler Farrar. And they go, ‘yeah, it’s just old Jensie, let him go.’”
They should probably stop saying that, if they ever did at all. It’s hard to know — it’s not like Voigt, 41, is getting away off the front on charity when Sagan and Farrar are angling for stage wins, and Hushovd is sniffing around.
“Jens Voigt surprised us all a bit,” Hushovd said.
Farrar added: “I really wanted to win today. But Jens pulled an awesome move, and everyone was just dead from riding so hard the last hour, so he did a good one.”
Voigt and his RadioShack team parlayed a headwind that turned crosswind into a wedge in the main field, and other contenders were happy to play along. Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) was there, as was Michael Rogers (Saxo-Tinkoff). Once it was clear the group was going to stay away, Voigt said he eased off the gas a bit, and then sensed the moment at about five kilometers to go.
“It’s almost like a voice talking in your head. ‘Go now. It’s now or never. It’s now, it’s now.’ And then you listen to that voice,” he said. “And I think maybe they underestimated me and they say, ‘Oh, he’s going to die out there. He’s going to slow down.’ And, yeah, it played in my favor. I guess I’m allowed to say, every now and then, I do still have a little bit of go power. … And once I’m out there, once I can see and smell this victory, it’s hard to get it away from me.”
Voigt’s diesel engine kept moving, powering him to his 66th win as a professional, and second win in the U.S in his last two appearances. In Colorado last August, he won a stage from a ridiculous break with more than 100 kilometers to the finish town of Beaver Creek, solo.
He said 2012 would be his last in the professional peloton. This year, he said he’s not in the twilight of his career, but rather extending seasons.
“I like to call it Indian Summer. It’s — you know — how beautiful it is? That’s where I am. The Indian Summer of my career. But yeah, everything has to come to an end one day. … But age is just a number, currently. If I can still do my job, if I can still be out there doing what people want, what they expect of me … there’s no reason to stop or slow down or give it up.”
Clearly, he’s not giving up. Asked what rider he’d tap to replace him, for once he was stumped, with no clever answer. Until this: “I think it would take maybe two persons. One to do the funny part, and one to be the bike rider.”
It may take two, actually, to be the bike rider.