Not so with Jens Voigt. Sunday, the 41-year-old professional cyclist completed the final stage of the Tour de France, covering more than 2,100 miles in three weeks. There's no hiding out in this sport, no allowances accepted for an elder statesman. To make it to the 21st and final stage in Paris, a rider must complete each of the previous 20 stages, covering 100 miles or more each day under a time-gap.
How old is Voigt? He's so old he was raised in East Germany when a Cold War-era wall divided NATO and the Warsaw Pact. The 2013 Tour de France's second-place finisher, Nairo Quintana, was only 8 years old when Voigt rode his first Tour in 1998. (Since then, the Jensie, as he's called on Twitter, has started 16 and completed 13 tours.)
More than survive, Voigt pushed hard, briefly pulling away from the pack of more than 150 riders for several miles Saturday as they slogged up the steep climbs of the Alps.
"I just wanted to finish the Tour de France on a good note. I don't want to finish the Tour like a beat-up old man and people say 'Ja, ja, ja, that's Jens, he was a former good rider," Voigt said. "No, I just wanted to finish on top of things and say, 'Hey, look, I'm still here and I still have something left in me.'"
Bob Davis is associate publisher/editor of The Anniston Star. Contact him at 256-235-3540 or email@example.com. Twitter: @EditorBobDavis