Jens Voigt (Getty Images)Jens Voigt (Getty Images) © Copyright

Shut up legs

Jens Voigt, 44, was born behind the iron curtain in East Germany, finished the Tour De France 14 times and is widely regarded as one of cyclings’ great eccentrics. Here are five things that make him great.

He's a man of honour

At the Giro in 2006 Voigt was covering a breakaway as part of his role in protecting his teammate and overall leader Basso. Voigt told the other riders why he was there and that he would not take turns at the front, but that he would not go for the stage win either. When his team car came alongside after the breakaway dropped to two riders, they told him to go and take the win. Voigt refused. “There is no honour in it,” he says.

He's hard

During the Tour of California in 2012 a bee landed on his lip. “I thought: leave the bee in peace, she won't sting you...Wrong guess, she did, and then I decided to live up to my image and swallowed her.”

He never quits

In 2010 at Col de Peyresourde Voigt was chasing the leaders downhill when his front tyre blew. When he got up he says he remembers thinking,” this is like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, with blood everywhere”. There was no team car near him but determined not to quit, he borrowed a child-sized racing bike and descended on that for 30 km looking like a ‘bear on a bicycle’.

He's determined

"I see the Madeleine, Tourmalet and Galibier and say 'oh hello, you again?'. I know they are hard but I also know they have an end somewhere and that somehow I am going to reach the top. I tell my legs 'just one more hairpin and then we will slow down' but then I reach the next one and tell them the same again. Sometimes I am done: I would not be able to pull the skin off a custard. But my motto is to never give up."

He's a man to follow

You don’t have to be mad to want to thrash your body to within an inch of its capabilities, but it helps. Ex-teammate Chris Boardman said Voigt is like a ‘big puppy who saw everything as a game or a adventure’. He arrived for the first training camp with mudguards on his bike the ‘regulation 10cm from the ground’, which saw him mocked roundly, until it starting raining and his teammates fought to be on his wheel, protected from the spray.

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