By Nigel Wynn
Monday, August 25 2014: The world of professional cycling is in a slightly poorer place after Jens Voigt drew his long career to a close at the age of 42 on Sunday.
Voigt chose the USA Pro Challenge as his final race and Jens being Jens, was part of the day's escape group surviving the clutches of the peloton until the final kilometre.
“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," Voigt said after his final race on Sunday. "[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."
Though he may have closed the final season of his career without a win, the German's palmares are full of victories, including two stages of the Tour de France and one at the Giro d'Italia. Voigt matched the record of 17 Tour de France participations this year.
He also excelled at shorter stage races, particularly those with a time trial, with wins in the Tour of Poland, Bayern-Rundfahrt, Tour of Germany, Tour Méditerranéen and no less than five wins in the Criterium International.
Voigt's first significant win was the Peace Race in 1994, but turned professional much later in 1997 for the Giant-Australian Institute of Sport squad. Then followed a spell at Gan/Credit Agricole from 1998 to 2003, before switching to CSC, later Saxo Bank, from 2004-2010. His home from 2011 has been Leopard-Trek, now known as Trek Factory Racing.
As well as wins in his own right, Voigt will be remembered for his tireless work for team-mates, easy smile and the catchphrase 'shut up legs', uttered to himself when his limbs were screaming with lactic acid as he weaved his bike up mountains with his trademark riding style.
Voigt will no doubt enjoy an active retirement with his wife Stephanie and six children, Marc, Julian, Adriana, Kim, Maya and Helen.
“All these years of straight forward hard work that people appreciate. 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," said Voigt.
"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 kilometres 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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