German powerhouse Andre Greipel will make his return from injury at the 50th Presidential Tour of Turkey that starts Sunday.
The sprinter underwent surgery after he ruptured the cruciate ligament between his shoulder and collarbone in a heavy crash within the final 10km of March’s Gent-Wevelgem, which prematurely ended his spring classics campaign.
It was a blow for the on-form 31-year-old who had been well positioned and supported in the run to the bunch finish, which John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) won.
The five-time Tour de France stage winner has demonstrated his versatile power and speed across six victories this season at the Tour Down Under, Tour of Qatar and Tour of Oman making him thus far the most winning of the WorldTour’s commonly considered best pure sprinters including Scheldeprijs champion Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) and Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step).
The Lotto Belisol team will observe Greipel’s condition at the eight-stage Tour of Turkey in which he can count on the support of chief pilot Greg Henderson, who has been rested for parts of the season due to a knee injury. The German national road champion won two stages there last year.
“Greipel starts with a conditional lag in the Tour of Turkey,” Lotto Belisol sports director Jean-Pierre Heynderickx said.
“After the first stages we shall see how well recovered Greipel is after his injury. It is provisionally a big question mark. We don’t know if he can go full force in the sprints. But if that isn’t the case we can count on other riders, for example Jonas Van Genechten or Kris Boeckmans, to participate in the bunch sprint.
“We have the intention to win a stage,” he continued.
“The Tour of Turkey is each year a feast for the sprinters. There are also two crucial stages with a finish uphill. With Adam Hansen and Pim Ligthart, who is in shape, we could definitely strive for a top 10 spot in the GC.”
Hansen has been earmarked to start his eighth consecutive Grand Tour next month, the Giro d’Italia, which teammate Greipel is not on a provisional list for.
Cavendish will have another opportunity to further work on his lead-out with pilots Alessandro Petacchi and Mark Renshaw at the race. Theo Bos (Belkin) and Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida) are amongst some of the other sprinters due to start.
Kittel won three stages in Turkey in 2013 but will skip it in favour of the Tour of Romandie and a Giro race debut from May 9.
Lotto Belisol for Tour of Turkey: Kris Boeckmans, Vegard Breen, Gert Dockx, André Greipel, Adam Hansen, Greg Henderson, Pim Ligthart and Jonas Van Genechten.
Presidential Tour of Turkey stages
Stage 1: Sunday April 27: Alanya – Alanya, 141km
Stage 2: Monday April 28: Alanya – Kemer, 175km
Stage 3: Tuesday April 29: Finike – Elmali, 185km
Stage 4: Wednesday April 30: Fethiye – Marmaris, 132km
Stage 5: Thursday May 1: Marmaris – Turgutreis, 183km
Stage 6: Friday May 2: Bodrum – Selçuk, 182km
Stage 7: Saturday May 3: Kusadasi – Izmir, 132km
Stage 8: Sunday May 4: Istanbul – Istanbul, 121km
The pre-race favourite crashed heavily with eight kilometres remaining.
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