Jens Voigt (Leopard Trek) admits that his chances of claiming a record sixth victory at Critérium International are slim, but at least

Jens Voigt (Leopard-Trek) admits that his chances of claiming a record sixth victory at Critérium International are slim, but at least he’ll be at the start line this year to have a shot.

2011 Ruta del Sol stage 5, Jens Voigt and Thomas Lovkvist
A tireless workhorse, Jens Voigt gets a chance to shine at the Critérium International

Last year, changes in the international racing calendar shipped Voigt off to race at the Volta a Catalunya in late March instead of making a run at Critérium history. This year, with his switch to Leopard-Trek, the 39-year-old German will be returning for the March 26-27 race. Voigt shares the record of five wins with Emile Idée and Raymond Poulidor.

“I like that race a lot, but it’s a whole different scenario since they moved from the north, where it was always cold and rainy, and moved it to sunny, beautiful Corsica,” Voigt told VeloNews. “The race, the way it’s done now, the decision will be made on the Saturday stage, so I don’t know if it fits me so well, but for sure I go back and give it my best shot.”

Race organizers shifted the race from its longtime home in the French Ardennes to the Mediterranean island of Corsica last year, a move that Voigt admits all but ends his bid for a record sixth victory in the two-day, three-stage race.

Route changes include a challenging climbing stage on the first day, a design that scuttles Voigt’s chances against the likes of Pierrick Fédrigo, who won the stage and the overall in 2010.

Voigt isn’t losing any sleep over making history and says he’s enjoying his move to the new Luxembourg-backed Leopard-Trek team, where he followed the Schleck brothers, Stuart O’Grady, Fabian Cancellara, Dominic Klemme, Anders Lund and Jakob Fuglsang out of Bjarne Riis’s Saxo Bank team.

Voigt joined Riis at CSC in the 2004 season and enjoyed some of the best success of his career racing under the Dane, including four of his five Critérium victories, two Tours of Germany, the Tour of Poland and stage victories at the Tour of California and Tour de France along with a stint in the yellow jersey.

Voigt says he has no regrets about turning the page on his Riis years.

“I had seven great years in the team. We did go a long way together, we achieved a lot of things together. We won the Tour de France with Carlos Sastre, we have seen Frank and Andy Schleck rising up to be the big stars that they are now. When they joined the team, they were just young little kids. I saw the whole development,” Voigt said. “I wanted to see something new one more time.”

Voigt says he’s particularly motivated about trying to get one of the Schleck brothers into the yellow jersey on the Champs-Élysées at the Tour de France. Would he hold back on his trademark attacking style? Voigt says he’s always been a faithful team rider and adds that helping the team win the Tour this year is his top goal.

“It would be an enormous satisfaction to ride down the Champs-Elysees with one of the Schleck brothers behind me in the yellow jersey,” he said. “That would be a moment, it cannot get much better in your career. That would be something I would love to achieve this year.”

Voigt, whose wife recently gave birth to the couple’s sixth child, admits he’s entering the twilight of his career, but is holding off on definitely saying this will be his final year in the saddle.

“I take it day by day, year after year. We’ll see. At the moment, maybe I am good enough to go one more year, but maybe my wife gets pregnant with baby number seven and I have no time to train at all anymore,” he said. “I don’t know yet. I cannot really tell you.”

Most fans would like to see Voigt around at least one more year.

Past winners of Critérium International

* The Critérium International was opened to non-French riders for the first time in 1979