The peloton is set to lose one of its most popular characters with confirmation from Jens Voigt that the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, which begins today, will be his final race.
The Trek Factory Racing rider said yesterday that he will be hanging up his wheels after the race, less than a month shy of his 43rd birthday and after 18 seasons as a professional. To mark the occasion, Trek have supplied him with a custom chrome Madone 7.
Quoted in the Denver Post, he said: "I had some great moments. I met some of the greatest people in the world. I am thankful for the sport of cycling and what it gave to me."
Long-time team mate Fränk Schleck added: "He always came to every single race willing to win. He was always great for the team, and the whole team will need that special push — and somebody who brews the coffee for us."
Voigt rode the Tour de France a record-equalling 17 times, beginning the last of those in the crowd-pleasing, attacking style that has endeared him to fans around the world, going on a solo break on Stage 1 from Leeds to Harrogate.
It didn’t stick, but he does have two stage wins in cycling’s biggest race, the second being this one from 2006 when he beat fellow escapee Oscar Pereiro to the victory, the pair crossing the line a full half hour ahead of the peloton.
If Voigt is known for one thing other than his buccaneering approach to riding, it’s his pithy witticisms, epitomised by what has become his catchphrase, “Shut up legs!” and typified in this interview.
And here he is being realistic about Andy Schleck’s prospects of winning the Tour de France in 2009, when his team mate finished runner-up to then Astana rider, Alberto Contador.
Finally, here’s Voigt talking to road.cc’s own Mat at Eurobike in 2010.
Retirement means that Voigt will have the opportunity to spend more time with his wife and six children, although he clearly knows his place in the household, having once said: “In the hierarchy of the family, I’m just above the dog. But I like it that way.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.