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“The sprint teams completely misjudged it. That is why I was desperately trying to be in the break. I had a few attempts to try and jump across, but they would not let me go," Voigt says

Photo: Sirotti


15.05.2014 @ 13:25 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Known as the king of breakaways, Jens Voigt was frustrated not to have been part of the escape that made it to the finish in yesterday's stage of the Tour of California. However, the German was full of praise of the escapees who played it smart to hold off the peloton.


The 165.1km stage down the California coast from Monterey to Cambria saw the early, expected break go up the road. However, in a twist from the normal sequence of events the six escapees – all from Continental teams – held off the peloton to contest the stage win. Canadian Will Routley (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies), also part of the key escapes in the other two road stages, showed the third time’s the charm by winning the slightly downhill sprint into Cambria.


Jens Voigt, a breakaway specialist who has made clear his ambition to be in a move at the Amgen Tour of California, explained just how this breakaway formed and was able to hold off a frenzied chase by such teams as Omega Pharma-QuickStep, Cannondale, and Giant-Shimano, amongst others.


“I think that they were feeling way too secure and sure of themselves and thought it was easy. They underestimated the determination and strength of the six guys out there. But the break was also playing their cards smart. They never tried to gain the maximum distance. When they were not given anymore than three minutes they just rode as efficient as they could at three minutes – if the peloton rides harder at the end to try and catch, then they also ride harder. They had some reserves left.


“The sprint teams completely misjudged it. That is why I was desperately trying to be in the break. I had a few attempts to try and jump across, but they would not let me go. It’s the jersey, the team – they let Continental teams go, but that’s it. For me, someone who loves to race in breakaways, I love a race like this. It shows that it’s still possible to take the risk and make your own destiny.”


As soon as the neutral had ended and the race was officially underway attacking began. The undulating course was ripe for a breakaway: no big climbs, a constant up and down, twisty road, and the prevailing breeze from behind. It was a straight shot south down the coast, and there were many motivated riders who wanted to be in the day’s principal breakaway.


“The attacks started as soon as the flag was dropped, but no one was able to get away there. Then we went a little faster, harder and more serious attempts went. I tried a few times. I could sense that it could stick today because it’s a rolling stage, always up and down, left and right with some wind.  I felt it would be a good chance today – but then I had the other teams yelling, ‘no we won’t let you go, not today!’


“You could feel at the start with the first attacks, that there was a big fatigue in the peloton. There were a lot of ‘boomerang’ attacks: They go out fast and come right back. This is what happens when the speed is high in the peloton and riders still try when they are tired. So they come right back. You could see that everyone was looking tired and that the teams who are just chasing are also hurting to close the gap. This tells you if there is a group that’s determined, and working nicely together, there’s a chance that they can make it.


“An early break usually can have more chance to make it since the pack mentality can be ‘that it’s early, it’s far, so we can let them go’. So they gain a lot more time than a break that goes later in a race, and they can be underestimated. Sometimes in the end they can hang on to their advantage.”


The six riders that finally were granted leave were all from Continental teams. They gained little more than three minutes advantage all race as Sky kept a tight leash. However, when the breeze turned into a fierce tailwind for the last part of the race the game changed: the advantage now turned to the six leaders. The panic was evident in the sprinters’ teams, and their breakneck pace even splintered a large group from the peloton at one point. But it was too late.


“For the most part the wind was just a breeze. But for the last 25k it was a roaring cross tailwind. It almost split the peloton on one moment. So if the break was doing 65kph, then we needed to do 90kph to make up time.  It was clear to me that it was over with 20k to go. They still had 2’30” and they were basically doing our speed.”


Director Alain Gallopin echoed the words of Voigt:


“I think that the strong tailwind threw off the sprinter teams and they made a mistake. It was not up to us to pull; when you have [Mark] Cavendish, [John] Degenkolb and [Peter] Sagan in your team, then you also have the responsibility. I think they managed well except they did not expect the tailwind.


“Today Sky did not want any WorldTour teams in the break. We tried, everybody tried, but Sky did not want it. Tomorrow there is a big chance that a breakaway could make it again - it will be a big fight at the beginning, and we will be ready.”


The top in the overall classificaiton remained unchanged after today as Matthew Busche continues to hold onto 7th, and Haimar Zubeldia 11th.



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