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Mont Ventoux
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An interview with Jens Voigt, July 15, 2006

"Oh no, not me again!"

Jens Voigt has been on the attack almost every day in the past week, but today on the way to Montélimar was the first time it actually worked. Voigt won the 13th stage from Oscar Pereiro after a 200+ km breakaway, and all the suffering in the past couple of weeks has finally paid off. Brecht Decaluwé reports from the finish.

A happy Jensy
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Q: Did you think you were the best rider in that group?

JV: Maybe it wasn't me who had the best legs in that break. But maybe you could say that if I won today, it might have been that I was the one rider who was most desperate for a win.

Q: Is that on your own behalf or on that of the team?

JV: Of course I wasn't only winning for myself, but also for the team. All these crashes and explanations on why I finished last in the time trial... Now I can say, 'I saved this energy for today!' But I also won for my team. We only have six riders left in the race, and out of the six, four have already crashed. So we only have two riders left who have not yet crashed. There was a lot of bad luck, and we just tried to keep the morale up. We had a good day in the mountains with Carlos Sastre and Fränk Schleck, and today, we have this stage win which I think is going to take a lot of pressure off us.

Q: You're a breakaway specialist, but with the length of the stage and the heat, did you really think that it would succeed today?

Winning the stage
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
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JV: Honestly, the first thing I thought was 'Oh no, not me again!' But then I noticed that we were allowed to get away; it was quickly ten minutes, twenty minutes... That's when I started to believe in my chances. Only at the very end, about ten, twenty metres before the finish line, I was thinking that this stage should be mine.

Q: What were you saying to Pereiro in the final kilometres?

JV: I said: 'You are going for the yellow jersey, so work a little bit. It’s in your own interest that you’re not staying on my wheel.'

Q: What do you think about the fact that this Tour de France is having a very chaotic development?

JV: So far, I think it was pretty exciting, the yellow jersey changes every day! You never know what will happen the next day. Phonak gave the jersey away because otherwise they would have got to work hard every day - today, tomorrow and in the mountains, afterwards they would all be very tired. Landis probably thought to give it away today, to take it back later on. Pereiro didn't perform that well in the mountains as he was 27 minutes down in GC, so it makes perfect sense to me.

Q: What does this victory mean to you after all that has happened?

Driving the break
Photo ©: AFP
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JV: Of course you can imagine that I’m really happy and relieved with what happened today. I didn't have a great start of the Tour de France as I got dropped out of the breakaway in Valkenburg. I really had difficulties to find my rhythm, and to get over this hiccup at the start of the Tour. This really takes a lot of weight away from my shoulders. There were a lot of reactions about my last place in the time trial, but today I can say that I saved all my energy for today. It really makes me happy and I hope that everybody in the team will have a big smile on their faces.

Q: The success of this breakaway, is that luck or do you need more than that?

JV: It’s a little bit of everything, as we are now two weeks away in the Tour de France. I lost some excess weight that I had at the start, and I also found back my rhythm. But it’s also a question of character, as not everybody wants to be in a breakaway when it is 35°C at the start of a 230 km stage. It’s a bit of both: I didn't want to give up and I just wanted it to happen. You just need to force luck on your side. This stage was one of these days were everything worked out. But from now on, I’ll have ten official rest days until the Tour de France ends!

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