Exclusive Interview: Up Close and Personal with Jens Voigt aka ‘Shut Up Legs’
#shutuplegs has become the mantra of every cycling enthusiast and I got to chat wit the legend Jens Voigt himself! Such an honor, as he came to KL for the opening of the latest Trek outlet, Treknology3 in Kota Damansara.
As I interviewed him for Baikbike.com, I was really having fun chatting with this legend. I asked about his biggest attack story which is amazing, bragging rights for life. Read all about it here. This feature was first published on BaikBike.com. #thejensie #dreaminterview
Man of the Hour, Jens Voigt once clocked 51.115km in the World Hour Record in the unified 2014 rules, riding ‘like a breakaway when you don’t want to be caught by the peloton’.
Popularly nicknamed ‘Jensie’, he rates himself unlike the ‘usual’ (stoic) German as he’s friendly, affable and spoke animatedly. Known for his signature phrase, ‘Shut Up Legs’, fans the round the world love Voigt for his undying, never give up spirit, much like the people’s champion.
We caught up with Jens Voigt to find out how it feels like to be on the other side of the handlebar now that he has retired from competitive, professional cycling.
BB: Congratulations for being appointed as Director Sportif of Trek, and giving the fans some hope for the continuity of your legacy. You’re famous for unforgiving solo attacks, how would you pass on that trait to someone in your team? Is it possible to nurture this?
JV: Absolutely, I always tell the team to go out and turn your race plan into a reality. Go out there, ride aggressively and take a chance. If you try 10 times, and only get one, at least you’ve got a chance. If you try zero times, well, you have zero chance, nothing at all.
Overall, I’m an average rider. I’m not the fastest in a sprint, I’m an average climber, average in Time Trial so if I’m in a bunch sprint, I know I don’t stand a chance. Therefore I have to go out there and do something different to come out on top.
BB: So, how does it feel to be on the other side of the handlebar?
JV: Bizarre, really. In the morning, you go down and have breakfast, take your numbers, but then when the riders go off for the race, you’re still at the starting line. I’ll get used to it, soon.
BB; Admit it, did you pick up the bike for a ride in Tour Down Under? The bikes definitely looked ‘shiny’, didn’t they?
JV: Yes, I did. We went for 2 rides around 80 kilometers, once around Adelaide and the other after the tour was over.
BB: I knew you would! Still hard to break the habit.
BB: You’re a testament that it’s definitely a long and tough road to being a pro rider. What’s advice or words of inspiration that you’d like to tell the upcoming young pro riders?
JV: 3 main phrases. Firstly, train lots. Secondly, train hard, the harder the better, no shortcuts. They will always come back to bite you when you least expect it. And third, always remember where you come from. Your parents, family, team, coaches, are the ones who will get you to where you are and will always be there for you.
BB: Which is the one big story or attack that you’ll be bragging about for life?
JV: It will have to be 2012’s Stage 4 USA Pro Challenge Stage 4 from Aspen to Beaver Creek.
It was a 156km race, but 3km from the start, I was in the breakaway with 25 other riders. I soon decided this wasn’t going anywhere, so I took off, climbing up the steep Independant’s Pass. The rest of the breakaway just looked at each other and no one took any action, so I led the race all the way!
My Director Sportif drove up to me, wound his window down and said, “Jens, it’s still a long way to go.” I was on a hill climb so I couldn’t talk much. All I said was, “Trust me.”
The director was new to the team, only been with us for 2 years, so he just went with it. The main peloton caught up to the breakaway group, but by then, I had a lead of 2 minutes and it was too late to catch up to me as they had given me too much space. I won the stage that day, with a lead of 6 minutes at the finish line. So at the end of the race, the director congratulated me and said, next time he will trust me again.
Icing on the cake was getting kisses on the cheek by (podium girl, model) Leah Farris on the podium too.
Note: Watch Jens Voigt win this 2012 USA Pro Challenge stage singlehandedly in this video linked here.
BB: Indefinitely, a bicycle started your career when someone offered you a free bicycle as a 10 year old boy. Do you have a 10 year old in mind to offer that bicycle and a chance of a lifetime to now?
JV: Yes indeed, but not to any particular child. My current job takes me around the world to promote Trek so perhaps I will have the opportunity.
BB: Capping a 17 year pro career with 850,000 kilometers, how many kilometers does your family get in return now that you’ve retired?
JV: We do bike rides together as a family now with the kids whom enjoy riding for fun on weekends and vacations. Sometimes we ride when we take the dog out.
BB: Have your sons picked up cycling? Any inclination from them to follow the footsteps and perhaps one day out-do your records or palmares?
JV: My 12 year old son has started cycling but does not want to take up the (racing) license until next year. When I was young, there weren’t so many distractions in the form of iPads, PlayStations etc. All we had was cycling, these days there’s too many distractions.
BB: And just how much pasta have you eaten now? It was 1300kg in 2012.
JV: Quite a lot but I haven’t been keeping count. In fact, my kids enjoy pasta more than I do now, and they always seem to want to eat it, all the time! When I come home, they tend to taunt me jokingly, “Dad, guess what we’re having for dinner tonight? Pasta again, are you angry with us?”
BB: Lastly, now that you’re heading the Trek team, will you bring them to participate in Le Tour de Langkawi next year?
JV: Well, the problem is that the race is in the earlier part of the year when we have Tour de San Luis, Argentina and Tour Down Under. Now that it’s after Tour of Qatar and Tour of Oman, we can consider it and I’ll push for it in the future.
Great! We’ll be looking forward to seeing the Trek team climbing up Genting Highlands, which you yourself have done it four times before. In Tour de Langkawi’s history, Voigt finished runner-up in 1997 when he was with team (ZVVZ-Giant-AIS).
#shutuplegs #jensvoigt #thejensie