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Voigt won’t defend Critérium International crown

Changes in the 2010 racing calendar mean that Jens Voigt will not have a chance to make history at Critérium International title later this month.

Voigt – who surged into the overall lead at Paris-Nice on Wedneday — has won the two-day race five times, tying a record held by Emile Idée and Raymond Poulidor, but the 38-year-old German veteran won’t be going back this year.

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Voigt on a chilly Paris-Nice morning ... before getting a new jersey in Aurillac. | Andrew Hood photo

“We won’t be sending a team to Critérium and that’s too bad for Voigt,” Saxo Bank sport director Kim Andersen told VeloNews. “We have the races in Belgium, we have Catalunya, which is a ProTour race and we’re obliged to go. And we also have two of our guys going to the track worlds. We can’t be everywhere, eh?”

Voigt has ruled the two-day, three-stage Critérium International, winning three consecutive crowns as part of a record-tying five victories overall.

With Ghent-Wevelgem and Volta a Catalunya coinciding with the two-day race window of Critérium International on March 26-27, Voigt’s Saxo Bank is stretched too thin to send a minimum of six riders to the French race which the German veteran has won a record five times.

“Can’t I just start alone? I don’t need a team. All I need is a mechanic and a car!” Voigt told VeloNews. “I can take the jersey on the first day, then I can just hide in the bunch, then you do a time trial. You don’t need anybody else.”

Voigt said he’s not too upset about the changes, especially with changes in the route with the switch to Corsica.

After being held for several years in the French Ardennes, race organizers have transferred the race to the Mediterranean island of Corsica, a move that’s seen as a precursor to a likely Tour de France start there in the next few years.

Voigt said the changes would have made it more difficult for him to win.

“They’ve changed the race quite a bit. Normally, it was the flat stage Saturday, with a hilly stage on Sunday. Now they have the mountain stage on Saturday, and Sunday morning is just a 70km flat crit, so it doesn’t fit so perfectly into my abilities like it did before,” Voigt said. “Plus, they are going to have stupid, warm weather down there, and I don’t like that. I like it to be hard, nasty and stressful, that’s good for me.”

So is Paris-Nice Voigt’s new, early season target? Smart riding in Wednesday’s explosive stage pushed him into the overall.

“The team is not going to Critérium, so I need to get my win in earlier,” he joked.

Voigt just might be able to pull it off, if he can get up the climbing finish to Mende on Thursday with the yellow jersey still on his back.

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