Tour de France
“It can all be over”: Voigt and the fear of the curve
Ex-pro Jens Voigt was in action as an expert on an escort motorcycle in the second week of the tour. The job is highly complex and dangerous.
Jens Voigt is in his element on the motorbike. As an expert, the ex-professional was present on the motorcycle at every stage of the second week of the Tour de France, bringing the Eurosport spectators closer to the racing action. “It was great, exhausting, nerve-wracking, fantastic, eventful,” Voigt told the German Press Agency. “It was like when I was a racing driver, only without the pain in my legs.”
Normally you don’t do the job on the motorbike during a big tour. But Voigt is experienced, has a motorcycle driver’s license himself – and so there was a cold start at the Giro d’Italia. The fans were enthusiastic on social media, Voigt was allowed to play again on the tour. The job is not without risk. “On a rational level you know that it could be over after every corner. This thought drives you along,” said the 51-year-old. Right from the start, he and his experienced driver agreed not to take any unnecessary risks.
There are only three Expert bikes in the field. French television, US broadcaster NBC and Eurosport have their own man with them. Strict rules apply to ensure safety. “Cars use the right lane, motorcycles stay on the left,” explained Voigt. “You have to turn on your head, anticipate situations and give a hand signal in good time about what you intend to do.” Interviews with sport directors are allowed, with drivers under no circumstances. A gray area is small talk with drivers you have known for a long time. “That’s a matter of discretion,” said Voigt.
Helmet with radio connection, protective suit with protectors and gloves are the most important things, along with good shoes. “I dug out my old army boots. I usually only wear them in the garden or for fishing,” said Voigt. Three audio channels (Eurosport commentary, radio tour, directing) run parallel in his ear, and all of the technology is stowed in the two side cases. The small suitcase at the back is for Voigt. There you will find, among other things, food, drink and sunscreen.
The pillion job is perfect for ex-pros. You can read a race, anticipate attacks. “You’re close, you see the faces and body language of the drivers,” said Voigt. He also draws on his own tour memories: “I know the stages from my active days and I’m used to the speeds, so I don’t panic when I’m going down the Tourmalet at 100 km/h.”