André Greipel is optimistic that he could roll back the years and win another Tour de France stage in the coming days.
The German sprinter has won 11 stages of the Tour in his illustrious career but not since 2016.
Incidentally, that was the same year that Mark Cavendish last claimed a Tour win, before the Briton’s four stages in the 2021 edition.
Greipel has been a bit-part player in the race’s sprint stages in the past three weeks, the Israel Start-Up Nation rider recording a bunch finish high of seventh on stage 10.
Following five stages in the Pyrenees, stage 19 - on the day Greipel celebrates his 39th birthday - should, based on the flat parcours, go the way of the fast-men once more, and although all attention will be on Cavendish as he goes in search of an historic 35th stage win, Greipel is preparing his own comeback.
“Never say never,” the 39-year-old told Cycling Weekly. “Otherwise, I wouldn’t have started the Tour.
“I wasn’t on the long-list before the Tour de France so I’m really happy to be here. I have had a decent Tour, for sure I’ve not had the results I wanted, but I will keep fighting.
“There are 180 starters in the Tour, 21 stages, so there are plenty of riders who’ve not won a stage.
“Sometimes miracles do happen, and we are going to see after the Tour if another one happens or not.”
Greipel has scored 158 career victories, his last coming at May’s Ruta del Sol race in southern Spain.
Much like Cavendish, he had endured a torrid few years before returning to winning form, but he was insistent that his long-time rival’s recent successes haven’t acted as motivation for him, saying “I can inspire myself.”
There are only a few sprinters left in the race following a number of withdrawals throughout the Grand Tour, and Greipel suggested that Cavendish’s struggles in the mountains could work in his favour.
“There’s a reason there aren’t many sprinters here anymore,” he said. “But I am still here and I will be able to fight for the wins.
“We’re going to see if my legs are fresh and the winner in the coming days will be who has the freshest legs. I have to take the opportunities if they come.”
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