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Art and Gabriel Neibrief are Sonoma County residents who are following the USA Pro Challenge. They are reporting on the cycling scene from Colorado.

More than a few cycling writers say that Jens Voigt is the hardest working competitor these days. Based upon what happened in Stage 4 Thursday, the opinion is well

Jens Voigt and Gabriel Neibrief (COURTESY PHOTO)

founded.

Voigt started out hot from Aspen and kept the heat on, winning Stage 4, which finished 97 miles away in Beaver Creek.

Voigt was part of a group of 15 riders who separated from the peleton as they ascended the CAT 1 Independence Pass out of Aspen, in an escape that had a lead of over 3 1/2 minutes when Voigt just took off at an increased cadence that the other 14 riders just couldn’t match.

After his  win, Voigt told the press that some might question the wisdom of him making his move so early in the stage, but he said, “I knew that it is risky, but hey, what should I wait for, you know?”

He is 40 years old.  At the press conference held in Durango two days before the race began, he was asked about retirement.  His response:  ”Retirement is not in my vocabulary.”

We first saw Voigt in May 2011 in South Lake Tahoe before Stage 1 of the Tour of California.

That morning, the stage had been shortened to just 50 miles because of road conditions and snow. At the podium, Voigt was asked about riding in such conditions.  He responded that he was fine, and also said that “I am here to inflict pain.”

This was a snowy morning with sub-30 temperatures and riders wearing balaclavas, full lycra and jackets.  About 10 minutes later, ride officials realized that conditions were too dangerous for any riding and Levi Leipheimer took the podium to announce the cancellation of the stage and to thank the fans for coming out.

We got to meet Voigt at the Santa Rosa Trek Store in May of this year, a few days before Stage 1 of the 2012 Tour of California.

It was the Team Radio Shack-Nissan-Trek party with about 200 local cycling enthusiasts crowded into the store, with  Voigt and teammates holding court.
He had the crowd laughing with his warmth and engaging manner, as he joked about balancing family life with six children and a career which has him on the road so much.  When asked what his next career would be, he said he hadn’t given it much thought.

The posted photo  is of Voigt with Gabriel taken toward the end of that gathering.

The day before the Pro Challenge began, we took part in a 45- mile community ride from Durango which traced the beginning of the next day’s Stage 1.  All of the teams were out training.  On one particular climb, Voigt  and his teammates were ascending a hill about 10 miles south of Durango Mountain Resort.  Seeing them coming, I stood on my pedals and increased my cadence, actually keeping up with Chris Horner for about a minute.  Voigt came from about 100 feet behind us to 100 feet ahead in a handful of seconds.  Horner turned to me and said, “he always does that.”

Oh yeah,  Voigt has plenty of gas left in the tank, and the attitude of a champion, as well.

Recap of results after Stage 4:
Stage winner- Jens Voigt
Overall leader- Tejay van Garderen
Sprint leader- Damiano Caruso
King of Mountains leader- Tom Danielson
Best Youg Rider leader- Joseph Lloyd Dombrowski
Most Aggressive Rider- Jens Voigt

Stage 5 is Friday; Breckenridge to Colorado Springs.  It is 118 miles which begins with a 10 mile CAT 1 climb out of Breckenridge followed by mostly descents into Colorado Springs.

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