PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM
Although Flche Wallonne once again came down to the last climb of the Mur in Huy before being decided in an uphill sprint by a favourite-packed group, much of the race's colour was provided by CSC powerhouse Jens Voigt, who was in the thick of the action on the front for 150km, writes Susanne Horsdal.
Part of a seven-man escape that went away hardly 40km into the race, the German simply powered on until he had slowly worn everyone else in the group out. And despite being alone in front with almost 40km still between him and the finish-line, Voigt just kept going and managed to keep the hard-riding peloton at bay until the four-kilometre mark.
After that effort, it was no surprise that Voigt's main feeling was one of dismay. "Of course I'm disappointed. I didn't plan to do 140km in a breakaway to almost make it. But it was a good try and I gave it everything I had," said the German, who knew he would have to go from the front if he was to avoid the uphill 'punchers' such as Danilo Di Luca and Davide Rebellin.
"I would have needed 30 seconds at the foot of the Mur. With the wind, the motivation of a victory ahead of me and only 800 metres of suffering it would have been enough," estimated Voigt. But it wasn't to be and he ended up in 50th place, 51 seconds down on Di Luca.
For CSC manager Bjarne Riis, Voigt's offensive came as no surprise. At the start in Charleroi he had already anticipated it: "I think it's going to be difficult to hold Jens back today," was how Riis put it.
That Voigt's adventure proved unsuccessful didn't bother his team manager. In fact, he believes that it's a growing problem for professional cycling that the races are often very controlled. Riis even called for more riders to have the guts to do what Voigt does.
"At the moment cycling needs a few more riders like Jens who dare to attack. Today a rider like Erik Dekker should have gone with Jens," said Riis, who was full of admiration for those who did put in the work.
"It was a good group, Jens was in - Bramati (Quick Step), Van de Wouwer (MrBookmaker), Jef Peeters (Chocolade Jacques), Poilvet (Crdit Agricole), Finot (Francaise des Jeux) and Kaisen (RAGT) - he just killed them, but at least they had the courage to follow him," said Riis, who admitted that sometimes it is necessary to calm the German down a bit. On the other hand, the Dane loves watching Voigt trying to pull off a stunt like this.
"You cannot and should not keep a rider like Jens back. If you do so, you kill him. And I actually think that a lot of riders would like to do what he does," said Riis.
For Jens Voigt there were no regrets after a hard day's work to no avail. "What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger," said Voigt before he disappeared into the team bus for some well deserved rest.