As Team Saxo Bank road racer Jens Voigt looks back on his 2009 season, the horrific crash during stage 16 of the Tour de France is still fresh in his mind. Despite being unable to finish the Tour and having to take six weeks off the bike for recovery, Voigt doesn't display any bitterness about his season.
"The crash on the descent during the Tour was ugly in many ways and most active athletes know that the a six-week break in the mid-season can make you crazy and restless inside," he said. "But the incident had a more profound influence on me. With all the alternative impacts the crash could have provided in mind, I have been grateful for even being able to recognize my wife and children, to be able to walk and to live a life without permanent injuries.
"That is the most important issue for me and my family. Everyday life functions again and I enjoy the off-season and being at home where my kids have made endless lists of activities for us to do before the races begin again."
Voigt's 2009 season was highlighted by his record-tying fifth victory in France's Critérium International. The 38-year-old German also claimed a stage win, the points classification and the mountains classification while Saxo Bank won the team classification. Voigt is eager to compete once again next year at the event.
"It was great winning the Critérium International for the fifth time. Only the French legend, Raymond Poulidor have done the same and I will certainly go for the sixth victory in the 2010 season. In addition, I am happy about the beautiful 2009 Tour de France with three stage wins and an overall second place for Team Saxo Bank. My definite goal is to be selected for the Tour de France line-up in 2010 where I hope and believe that I am back in peak shape. I do not want to end my Tour de France participation with a crash."
Before training commences for the 2010 season, however, Voigt will enjoy a couple of weeks of time off the bike which began after he helped teammate Chris Anker Sørensen win the Japan Cup on October 25. Voigt will start his training program and at the end of November when Team Saxo Bank partakes in its annual survival camp.
"Of course, I am looking forward to days without food or sleep with nocturnal walks in complete darkness. Who wouldn't?" said Voigt. "When you are standing freezing, hungry and tired in the middle of a dark forest without knowing where you are, it seems difficult to see the point of anything. But these 'stupid' hikes still serve a relevant and important purpose. It brings the team closer together and we learn to know each other and work together with our differences as a strength.
"That is highly relevant when we work so closely together as a team and is a great tool for welcoming new riders to the team. And when the camp is over you leave with increased readiness and confidence from successfully overcoming challenges."
Voigt is looking forward to meeting Saxo Bank's new riders for 2010, particularly Australia's Baden Cooke.
"We have had to say goodbye to good friends and old acquaintances on the team like Kurt-Asle [Arvesen], Karsten Kroon, Lars Bak and Marcus Ljungqvist but in return we get to welcome several new riders who are just waiting for the proper development," said Voigt. "Baden Cooke, for instance, is a strong rider who has won the points classification at the Tour de France but external factors have held him back in the last few years. I am looking forward to watching him reveal his talent and I am looking forward to working with the new aspiring riders."
For up-to-the-minute race news, visit Cyclingnews.com.