The corrupted logic of the breakaway rider

Jens Voigt got in the break on stage three of the Tour Down Under.

“I picked today’s stage to break away because nobody else did, but I knew that it was close to impossible to go for the stage win.”

But he did it anyway.

That’s a key aspect of the near-universal appeal of the 42-year-old German rider. He personifies the deluded, self-punishing romance of the forlorn bid to go it alone with a hundred miles to go. In Voigt’s case, it’s not just hope over experience; it’s hope over an unparalleled level of experience.

But he does it anyway.

Maybe there’s something symbolic in this. There are times in all our lives when we need to believe that something might just work out, even though any logical assessment says that it is – in the words of Voigt – ‘close to impossible’. On those rare occasions when Voigt or another breakaway rider wins, it allows us to dream. In your face, cold, rational, emotionless assessment of the situation!

So Voigt won?

Er, no. It was close to impossible. Cadel Evans won with a ride which probably warrants more than a footnote on a Jens Voigt article.

Evans and Richie Porte managed to escape from the peloton on the slopes of the Corkscrew, but the latter couldn’t hack the pace. He was joined by Simon Gerrans but the two of them couldn’t catch Evans on the subsequent descent and were in fact swallowed up by the bunch. Evans extended his lead on the way down and took the overall race lead thanks to a 15-second time gap and a 10-second bonus.

Stage four

Probably a sprint finish. Greipel v Kittel, in theory.