Stage 16 is unlucky number
Jens Voigt is the 167-pound German workhorse for team Saxo Bank and a domestique for top contender Andy Schleck. If Schleck wins this year’s Tour de France, it’s largely because Voigt sets a Herculean tempo for his leader that other riders cannot match. A week ago in Stage 9, Voigt annihilated the peloton while pacing a rail-thin Schleck up the steep Col de la Madeleine. At the end of that race, Schleck slipped into first place in the overall standings and garnered the yellow leader’s jersey.
Although he’s an extremely reliable rider, Voigt has his share of bad luck. In the 2009 Tour, Voigt crashed in Stage 16 while descending the Col du Petit-Saint-Bernard. His front wheel slipped and he slammed down on his face and slid on the pavement. He briefly lost consciousness and was taken to the hospital. Perhaps it is coincidence or fate that Voigt crashed on Tuesday descending the Col de Peyresourde. It too is numbered Stage 16.
While racing down the first mountain of the day, Voigt’s front tire blew out and he hit the ground. “Just one year after my horrible crash, and there I was tumbling on another mountain descent,” Voigt wrote in Bicycling Magazine. “And let me tell you, about the only place that feels good right now is my right ankle.”
Voigt says he got stitches in his left elbow and may have broken some ribs. His bike shattered. But this year, he wouldn’t quit. With no team car around to help, the six-foot-two Voigt was left with slim pickings. “The race organizers got me a bike, but it was this little yellow junior bike. It was way too small for me and even had old-fashioned toe-clip pedals,” he wrote.
Voigt eventually rode up to his team car and got a much better bike. Somehow, he was able to catch up to the peloton and finish the race with the main field.
“I’m going to Paris,” Voigt insists. “There’s just no way you are going to get me out of this race for the second year in a row!”