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“I was trying to be a professional to my last minute on the bike. I knew that there was a fair chance that a break would go and I made sure I was in that break. I just tried to be a force to be reckoned with until the last moment on t...

Photo: Henriette Brandt

RICCARDO ZOIDL

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TREK - SEGAFREDO

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USA PRO CYCLING CHALLENGE

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25.08.2014 @ 12:59 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

After yesterday's final stage of the USA Pro Challenge, Jens Voigt's career is definitively over. However, the German ended it all in his trademark fashion by being part of the day-long break.

 

The final day of the 2014 USA Pro Challenge will go down in cycling history as the day Jens Voigt finally hung up his wheels. It will be a day remembered - not for the sprint finish won by Alex Howes (Garmin Sharp), or for Tejay van Garderen (BMC) winning his second successive USA Pro Challenge (both great achievements) - but as the final race, the final breakaway, and the final ‘never-say-die’ stand of Jens Voigt.

 

“I was trying to be a professional to my last minute on the bike," he said. " I knew that there was a fair chance that a break would go and I made sure I was in that break. I just tried to be a force to be reckoned with until the last moment on the bike. I was trying one last time, gave it a go, and I missed again a few kilometers, but hey I can’t change that.

 

"Now there’s no more suffering, no more stress, no more risk of crashing – that was a high priority for me today to keep the rubber side down. [Today was] one more time to show myself, one more time to give it all I have, and now I have a one big, large, long holiday ahead of me.”

 

The 126-kilometer stage seven had one final climb to get over, the eight-kilometer Lookout Mountain, which shaved the original eight-man breakaway to five, and cut the Garmin Sharp-led peloton chasing behind to just over 40 riders.

 

Garmin continued the pressure, and the advantage to the five riders' lead gradually began to fall. Voigt knew he had to go.  His first attack was covered, but his next was good. He had a gap, the breakaway split again, and only two remained in the lead with 30 kilometers to go. But the margin was slim, less than a minute, and everyone knew that it was doomed. But no one cared. Jensie was in his element, putting on one last show, entertaining to the bitter end, and it was a perfect ending.

 

When Voigt was caught with seven kilometers remaining it was one of Trek Factory Racing’s young budding talents, Riccardo Zoidl, who countered. The peloton hesitated and Zoidl gained 20 seconds advantage before they recovered and began another pursuit.

 

Zoidl was eventually snagged back with two kilometers to go, but somehow it seemed fitting, like a tribute to Voigt's career: Trek Factory Racing’s new generation continuing where Voigt left off, almost as if the torch had been passed.

 

“Today I felt very, very good," Zoidl said. "When Garmin was pulling on the front I was thinking about attacking but Jens was still in front so I waited. When we caught Jens on the final circuit I saw that Garmin and UnitedHealthcare had been riding the front the whole day and were a little bit on their limits, so I tried. It looked good and it was a shame that BMC was riding in the end, but okay, I tried, and maybe next time it will work.”

 

Under the fanfare of Voigt’s final ride, Matthew Busche quietly finished with the peloton and cemented his fifth place overall. 

 

Although Voigt did not leave his final race with a victory he was crowned the most aggressive rider, perhaps a more pertinent ending to his storied career.

 

“All these years of straight forward hard work that people appreciate," he said. "Every single win I earned because I worked hard for it, no tricky wins, and no lucky wins. I had many, many failures in my career, many times that I got caught, like this week twice, and I just don’t give up. I think that is what the people appreciate. You are allowed to fall down, but you have to get up, dust yourself off, and go again.

 

"I have had terrible crashes, great triumphs; my career is full of special moments. Who can say that he did 20 kilometers in the Tour de France on a children’s bike? Who can say he was flown off by helicopter [after a bad crash] and came back 12 weeks later for the next race? Who has six children and is still a world-class athlete? There are a whole lot of these moments in my career that have inspired people.

 

"What’s next? Well if I can freely choose I will go straight to my book shop, a real quiet and slow job where there is no pain involved. Or I would sign up with Discovery Channel and do commentary about lions and sharks.”

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