After more than 100 years of spectacular drama, joy and heartache, there is no shortage of great stories surrounding the Tour de France. And on a (California) cold night last year, a group of fortunate SoCal cycling fans were warmed by the animated tales of 17-time Tour de France finisher Jens Voigt who was paying a visit to the Westlake Cyclery Trek store. Voigt, who next to Bob Roll, is one of the sport’s best story-tellers, revealed for some, and reminded others, of a Tour de France moment that unquestionably would have to rate among not only the most unbelievable stories, but also one of the most memorable.
As Jens was asked what one of the most challenging race moments he encountered throughout his 17 Tour de France finishes, he brought up a late stage in the 2010 race that qualified for him.
A MOST HUMAN GESTURE
While some in the audience were familiar with the tale – how following a crash he was left with an unrideable bike – and having been left behind by the team cars following the peloton, he took the offer of a spectator to ride a kid’s bike – “with toe clips and junior gearing”. After he invited the audience to find the interview and photo about it on YouTube (below), he went to on to divulge what took place afterward with Mark Cavendish that had many in the audience shaking their heads in disbelief.
“We only had three days to go until we reached Paris and I wasn’t about to quit and so I headed out on the little bike…”
“I was riding this kids bike and caught up with Cavendish and some of his teammates who were riding easy with him to the finish that was still about 15k away. Basically, they told me to ride ahead on the climbs on the little bike and then after they caught me on the descents, they actually sat up and waited for me so they could pull me along. Further up ahead my team car had left a spare bike with a gendarme and told him to get me the bike when I eventually made it that far so I finally got a correct bike to finish on. But, what Cavendish did to help me was a great display of sportsmanship – Mark was my hero that day!”