Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Voigt - CSC-Saxo Bank Waiting To Pounce

Team CSC-Saxo Bank used a lot of energy on Monday's stage to Hautacam, but it certainly paid off as Luxembourg champion Fränk Schleck rocketed from 11th to second overall, one second behind new leader Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto). Providing much of that energy was Jens Voigt, who set a blistering pace up the Col du Tourmalet and then powered the CSC train along the valley road towards Hautacam.

After a brutal day in the mountains where he eventually trailed in 14 minutes after the stage winner, Voigt explained his team's tactics on stage ten. "This morning [team manager] Bjarne Riis said that it would be perfect if we have Fabian [Cancellara] in the breakaway, and that he survives the first climb so that he could work afterwards," said Voigt. "Riis told me to hold back and save my energy by not going into any breakaway.

"On the Tourmalet Volodymir Gustov and I set a hard tempo. That worked out pretty nice since I actually managed to drop Valverde and Cunego," Voigt said proudly. "To be honest, for a moment I felt like Eddy Merckx. It gives you a huge boost in motivation and morale; you just want to go faster and faster.

"You hear in the radio: this and that rider is dropped and at the top we had about 20 riders left in our group. Over the top Fabian waited for us and did the descent. In the valley we rode as fast as we could to put on as much time as we could on Valverde and Cunego. You never know that you might need that time later on in the race. Then I did the first two or three kilometres on the last climb and then it was explosion du moteur (engine explosion)," said Voigt, pointing out that he had nothing left in the tank at that moment of the race.

When Voigt dropped back Fränk Schleck and Carlos Sastre took over, but the younger of the Schleck brothers, Andy, began to struggle. "When I stopped pulling I noticed that Andy was struggling at the back of the group," said Voigt. "He's not the type of rider who likes to storm up a mountain like we did today. He needs a few kilometres to get his rhythm going."

Eventually Andy Schleck lost nearly nine minutes to stage winner Leonardo Piepoli (Saunier Duval-Scott) and dropped back to 22nd in the general classification. "He's young and it is his first Tour de France," said Voigt. "Everybody puts pressure on him after his second place in the Giro d'Italia, but you can't expect that from such a young guy."

While brother Fränk Schleck was initially disappointed to miss the yellow jersey by a second, Voigt said the race situation suits his team, which should be able to conserve energy until its onslaught in the Alps. "Fränky is one second behind the yellow jersey, so that means Lotto has to defend the jersey. We can just wait, and on Fränk's climb Alpe d'Huez we'll take it over from them.

"Of course Fränk will be disappointed because he is so close to yellow. Especially since he was virtually in yellow halfway up the climb, and in the end he's losing it by only one second. For me as a domestique rider it is different. The teams who have defended the jersey so far, like Caisse d'Epargne and Columbia, totally exploded today and had nobody in front.

"From that point of view we [CSC] should be happy to not have the jersey and wait a few more days to take it. On the other hand this might also be as close as we get, you never know.

"You're happy not to work like crazy, but on the other hand it would be nice to have it."

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