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AXAT, France (VN) – Jens Voigt was among the riders to go down hard on Saturday’s 14th stage of the Tour de France to Plateau de Beille. The Leopard-Trek rider said after the finish that he was banged up, but saw no threat to his continuing the race.
“Yeah, I’m ok I guess. I’m far from perfect, but it still should be ok to go to Paris,” he said. “Stuff like that happens sometimes … I guess.”
Voigt crashed twice within minutes on the descent of the Cat. 3 Port de Lers and lost contact with a large chase group minutes ahead of the peloton. The German braked hard entering a left-hand corner partway down the descent of the stage’s penultimate climb.
”My back tire popped on the descent,” said Voigt. “I hit the brakes so hard that it exploded. It’s hard to stay upright when that happens.”
Voigt rode straight through the corner and crashed on the edge of the road. Moments later he went down even harder, on a right-hand bend, and landed in the road, squarely on his elbow, hip and knee. Voigt said his front wheel slipped, but he wasn’t certain what happened in the crash.
“It’s sad, but I’m lucky. I have only scratches and some blood,” he said. “At the Tour, you always have some fantastic days and some days where you hit the asphalt. Today was an asphalt day for me.”
After washing the road grit and dried blood from his legs, Voigt said he had barely made it through the Pyrénées.
“We survived the Pyrénées, some of us better than others,” he said. “Tomorrow we have a flat stage, a rest day and then the Alps. There’s still more work.”
Voigt crashed out of the Tour in 2009 in a frightening episode on the descent of the Col du Petit-Saint-Bernard. He also left May’s Tour of California with a broken wrist. When asked Saturday if he was ever scared during a descent, Voigt said that he is, quite easily.
“Getting scared on a descent is my second name,” he said. “I never like descents so much, so I’m always trying to be more careful, but it’s part of the job.”
The 39-year-old super domestique for Andy and Fränk Schleck said that he of course does not want to repeat his early exit in 2009.
“I had the stupid crash two years ago,” he said. “I don’t want to go out of the Tour de France because of a stupid crash, so I guess keep on going. I want to see Paris.”