Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Whatever it takes, Part 2. More on Jens Voigt, the gendarme and that "junior" bike that saved his Tour

To me it's probably the story of Le Tour - how Jens Voigt was able to ride his way to a stage finish when all hope appeared lost.... if you persist with the video Jens describes in detail (and in his cracked Germanic-Aussie English) exactly what happened, including Bjarne Riis commanding a gendarme to wait by the side of the road with a new bike for Jens.

Jens Voigt: I borrowed a children's bike...

Pez CyclingNews: "Why on earth was Jens on a kid's bike? Well he crashed very heavily on the descent of the Col de Peyresourde and all the team cars passed and left him behind leaving him with only the ambulance and broom wagon left to help him. He could either go to hospital in the ambulance or to the finish with the broomwagon. They were his two choices as he lay bleeding, injured next to his broken bike on the side of the road. Jens didn't like either of these choices though and instead demanded for a bike to finish the race, but nobody had one! It was at that stage that chance shined upon Jens as a promotional car carrying kids bikes happened to pass by.

Jens commandeered one of those bikes and was able to remount the too small bike with toe clips and continue the descent. Check out the youtube video here for a great photo of Jens decending the Peyresourde on this bike and an interview of Jens in English as he explains his story. Chapeau Jens!"

addicted2wheels: What would Jens do? Whatever it takes. Follow this to video, pic, words on Jens on the "junior" bike

TdF Friday | lovingthebike.com

“The worst thing of all was that I almost got forced out of the Tour for a second year in a row. The problem was that the first team car was behind Andy Schleck, and the second had decided to go up ahead to hand out water bottles at the foot of the next climb. As a result I had no bike, because mine was shattered.

So then the broom wagon pulled up and was like, “Do you want to just get in?” And I said, “Oh no, I don’t need YOU!” But there I am with blood spurting out my left elbow and no bike. Finally, the race organizers got me a bike, but it was this little yellow junior bike. It was way too small for me and even had old-fashioned toe-clip pedals. But that is the only way I could get down the mountain, so I had to ride it for like 15-20 kilometers until I finally got to a team car with my bike.” – Jens Voigt

And a special note:
Just as an aside Jens is unofficially part of the 'Aussie' contingent, having been contracted by then Aussie road coach Heiko Salzwedel to race with the ZVVZ-Giant-AIS Cycling Team in the mid '90s. Although that squad lasted only 2 years it dates back earlier, starting in 1991 with GIANT bicycle company sponsorship and was involved in the later success not just of Jens but also Matt White, Pat Jonker, Henk Vogels, Dave McKenzie and Robbie McEwen in the road sphere and Cadel Evans in the mountain bike field. There were many other great riders to come out of that program - Nick Gates springs to mind - and it's interesting to reflect on where some of those have ended up post-career. Voigt and McEwen of course are still racing, but their long days sitting on pro bikes are surely numbered... and DS roles will just as surely beckon.