Jens Voigt will not be defending his title at the Critérium International this month. Some major changes of dates in the bicycling calendar have made this unexpected situation.
Other races are already set which made the two-day window for the Critérium, an impossibility. Ghent-Wevelgem and Volta a Catalunya were already booked making Saxo Bank give up the Critérium since they will need to send six riders to the French race.
“We have the races in Belgium, we have Catalunya, which is a ProTour race and we’re obliged to go. And we also have two of our guys going to the track worlds. We can’t be everywhere, eh?”, remarked Kim Andersen, sport director of Saxo Bank.
Voigt, on the other hand, is not that concerned about not being able to defend his title. This was due to the changes the organizers made for the Critérium’s route. He felt that some factors on the route will work against him, making it difficult for him to win the event. “They’ve changed the race quite a bit. Normally, it was the flat stage Saturday, with a hilly stage on Sunday. Now they have the mountain stage on Saturday, and Sunday morning is just a 70km flat crit, so it doesn’t fit so perfectly into my abilities like it did before.”
Voigt have won the Critérium five times, tying the record held by Emile Idée and Raymond Poulidor.