Jens Voigt Interview
This week Christopher Jones from Bicycles Network Australia contacted me about something exciting you’ll all be interested in. Christopher spends his time living between Sydney and Berlin and after months of trying to line up an interview with Jens he finally got his chance. Once he got Jens on the phone, the next day they were sitting in a cafe around the corner having a chat.
Thank you Chris for sharing the interview highlights with us. If you haven’t seen his BNA website, I highly recommend you check it out where you’ll also find all seven parts of the full interview. Have a listen to the SHUT UP LEGS soundbite from their chat. Classic Jens!
The Best of Jens
with Jens Voigt and Christoper Jones
It is hard not to like Jens Voigt. Across the globe cycling fans know that he always goes as hard as he can and when he hurts, he really hurts. He is a genuine champion. In person Jens is very relaxed and he easily shares a smile. In a Berlin Cafe, with the smell of golden pastries and cappuccino in the air, I had the pleasure of spending a few hours sipping green tea with Jens Voigt and exploring his wisdom. We were joined by the Australian photographer Paul Green.
With a thoughtful pause, he tackled even the challenging topics, such as doping and the banning of race radios, with conviction. I also asked Jens questions submitted by members of the Australian Cycling Forum, where he is considered something of a super hero. We discussed the Jens phenomenon and whether “Shut Up Legs” actually works.
The interview in full is presented in seven parts and will be released during the next week. Here is a selection of some of Jens’ best quotes from that interview.
On why Australian cyclists are big fans of Jens:
Voigt: “I guess people down there like my accent a bit. Every now and then I give a funny comment where they just have to laugh. And also I think that they like that I am not an empty facade. They see what they get and they get what they see. There’s no faking or no pretending. When I race hard and when I win it is because I actually did work the most and when I don’t win it is because I just wasn’t good enough. I do not complain that other people were better and I think that is the reason why they like me. I am just a simple down to earth honest hard working person.
Of course I am blessed with a little bit of talent, but I actually do work hard for it and I think that is what the people appreciate and what they like; at least I hope that. Maybe they just think I am a pretty face. ”
Voigt: “…like a lot of things in my life I just do it with passion, that makes up for it. I don’t really know how it works, but I do it with passion.”
“I think every cyclist should look a little outside, open up their horizons a little bit and listen and look into other things that are fun. Do what you like and profit from that. If you only go riding, riding, riding all year long for ten years, you will just have a tunnel vision by the end of it. It is good every now and then to get your body to straighten up again and use your upper body a little bit. ”
On his thought process when he’s in a break-away:
Voigt: “…towards the end when it becomes more important, you either want to go for the win with the team you are in or the peloton is coming closer. Often I take a more aggressive way of thinking, a more confident way of thinking – if it hurts me, it must hurt the other ones twice as much. They are only human. They cannot go faster than you.”
On the Stage 16 crash in the 2010 Tour de France and finishing the stage:
Voigt: “[I thought] ‘No, I do not accept defeat here. I do not accept this. I’m going to change this’. I’m a big believer of the theory that you make your destiny. You’ve got your fate in your hands and it’s up to you, it’s your responsibility. It is sometimes a heavy burden, but it’s you who changes, who moves, who shapes your reality for yourself, who shapes your life.”
On the increase in cycling technology and fans access to live data in cycling:
Voigt: “I think that’s a good thing to make cycling easily understandable and that people actually realise how hard of a sport it is sometimes.”
On radio free days:
Voigt: “When the organisers complain, when the TV complains: change the stages. Stop making stupid 220 km stages, flat and in one direction. Of course you are going to have the same scenario every single day. And then you have that for one whole week to go from the Atlantic coast of France along the channel down before you hit the Alps, of course you are going to have the same outcome every day. Change that; don’t make us responsible for it.”
On his prospects for riding in the 2011 Tour de France
Voigt: “…definitely it is not getting easier with the age. Of course if you’re an old person, the young people don’t step back and offer you a place. They go ‘Look Jens, I like you but hey, I also want to go to the Tour’. That’s fair enough, I was the same when I was younger, that’s how it should be.”
On his first Carbon Fiber racing frame with sloping top tube and high profile wheels:
Voigt: “I swear in the first year on the Cervélo, with the wheels and everything, I felt like sitting on a sailing boat. You don’t pedal and this bike moves. You are just looking at the other ones around you and are going ‘Oh, you poor thing, you’ve got no chance, you’re already beaten’. We are on the starting line and you look at them and go ‘You’re all beaten; I am just laughing at you.’”
On Doping and the current system
Voigt: “If you stand still, the cheaters try to develop; they try to go further and try to find new ways around the system. The system constantly has to be updated to make it more precise and accurate to catch them; that’s what we want.”
On Penalties for doping
Voigt: “If you are driving your car too fast: penalty. If you hit someone on the train in a fight: penalty. That’s what people understand. There is the action and it has consequences. Sometimes it may look in some cases that there was an action and there are no other consequences. Why is that? That’s no good. It doesn’t give any of us a good image. I don’t understand and I don’t like that.”
On pro cyclists to watch:
Voigt: “I would pick Jakob Fuglsang, but he is not really a secret tip anymore. He has already proven that he is up there. He is going to be good. Also Robert Gesink from Rabobank, I think we still have not seen the best of him. I think he is still getting stronger and developing so I think will be a hot contender for this year’s Tour de France.”
On when Australian cyclists will begin to dominate worldwide:
Voigt: “Don’t they already? They are just killing people on the track. WTF, 4:10 alone – solo pursuit. It’s not that long that you would have won the gold medal in a team pursuit with that time. It’s f***ing unbelievable. Bobridge! Then there’s the two Meyer brothers; How good are they? They are as pure as gold.”
On Australian cyclists in Europe:
Voigt: “I witnessed the first wave of Australians, Stuart O’Grady and Robbie McEwen and they were just dead hard riders. They paved the way for the others. Now everybody looks at the Australians and go ‘Yeah, they have got a whole bunch of talent’.”
On his future in cycling:
Voigt: “I have a deep knowledge of everything around the bike and cycling, so in one way it would be a shame to waste all that knowledge. I worked hard; I paid with my own blood and skin for this knowledge. On the other side you may think, ‘I think it’s a moment to switch and take a whole new direction’, but I don’t know.”
On whether his legs really do “shutup”
Voigt: “I swear, sometimes they do. Not all the time, I cannot do this magic all the time. This mojo, it only works in certain occasions. But actually yes, they do.”
On his popularity amongst cycling fans:
Voigt: “It is just a phenomenal satisfaction and overwhelming feeling that you can inspire people. When people sit at home and go ‘I hate my job, but c’mon Jens and we just gotta get through it’. You go – ‘oh my God, I did that, I influenced his life’.”