Written and Photographed by Emily Maye
Bob Jungels is 20 years old. He’s one of the most impressive young talents in the Pro Peloton. Really. He’s incredible on the bike, he’s sociable off it. And not a bad dancer, I’ll add. Jens Voigt is 41 years old. And he’s, well, he's mutherfuckin’ Jens Voigt.
Their birthdays are 5 days apart. 5 days and 21 years.
Music is generally of the Euro dance variety on the Radioshack Leopard Trek team bus. Even early in the morning, which struck me as odd while riding with the team at 8:01 AM, transferring to the start of Stage 2 in Murrieta during the Amgen Tour of California. The bus is equipped with 12 stacked bunk beds and a lounge area in the back, but surely the music transcends all spaces. It’s not the bus they use in Europe—which has bucket seats and plenty of room for each rider to sit—which has nowhere to sleep, and at 8 AM, the beds make more sense. The music, not as much.
Two riders take the back area, one takes the desk booth area, connects to the bus wi-fi on his iPad and pins his race number to his jersey. The others take to the bunks. Jens takes a bench up front, opens a newspaper, puts his feet stretched up against the opposing bench and assures me, “They’re not sleeping, they are just conserving energy. It’s important to save as much as possible.”
Euro dance club music plays as we head north.
Five days later we leave the San Jose Airport Garden Hotel, which is not in any way reflective of what you find on their website btw, and the entire vibe has changed. Jens won Stage 5 in an incredible late attack into Avila Beach and on the ridiculously difficult Stage 6 Individual Time Trial, while I followed him in the car, he took time to high-five fans along the road. He is wearing the Number 1. I’ve never heard the audible support for a rider that I heard passing fans on that day. It’s funny, you think the energy would be in his approaching, but in a follow car you hear what happens just after he’s passed: “That was Jens!,” “Go Jens!,” “I love you, Jens!,” “Shut up legs!” Over and over. He touched them, high-fiving anyone that stuck a hand out on the climb. Hell, he’d won the day before, he knew he wasn’t going to win that day during the TT.
Sometimes Pro Cycling should be about having fun. It might be too hard without it. Even for Jens Voigt.
As I get on the bus at the San Jose Airport Garden Hotel, two days after Voigt’s victory, metal music is playing—much to mine and everyone else’s surprise. There’s a slight change to the seating arrangement of the riders. Jens is up front, as before, and I show him the photo I took of him high-fiving spectators. He asks for the photo and I send it to him over Whatsapp. He tweets it. Bob Jungels sits across from me on a bench and pins his race numbers for the day. Bob and Jens at the front of the bus. 20 and 41.
At some point, the metal music has been changed. There’s a remote and someone is apparently in control. Jens doesn’t like the music change. It’s Justin Timberlake now and he complains about the whining, “I lost my girl,” cheesy tune. He goes on about it for a bit. Quite a bit. Whining doesn’t really appeal to Jens. There’s not really anyone but Bob to engage in the argument. At some point, the topic turns to dancing. Bob listens and Jens pins his race numbers.
“I don’t know how to dance, but like most things, I do it with passion. And it turns out ok. I don’t know how to make love and I have six children. I don’t really know how to ride a bike... but I do it with passion.”