German André Greipel will have his first chance to lead a team in a Grand Tour when the Giro d'Italia starts tomorrow, but his inner-team rivalry with Mark Cavendish takes some of his attention.
The two HTC-Columbia riders have been at odds since the 2007 Etoile de Bessèges. Often they confront each other via the press, with Brit Cavendish recently saying, "There's no chance of Greipel winning a Monument."
"I was not happy to read that," Greipel explained today. "I did not speak to him after that, but I did speak to the team directors."
Greipel prefers to let his legs do the talking and will have his chance at the Giro d'Italia, which starts tomorrow Amsterdam. He knows that winning multiple stages will give him a chance to make the Tour de France team and race side-by-side with Cavendish.
"I have won 11 races now; I just try to do well in every race. The [German] media recognises that, that I have 11 wins. That is why they look to me to do other races.
"They are always speaking about the Tour, but I am doing the Giro now. If the team wants me to do the Tour then I will do the Tour. It is a problem for Columbia-HTC. I mean, Cavendish won ten stages in the last two years in the Tour de France, so it is hard to pass him.
Cavendish has won 10 stages at the Tour de France and five at the Giro d'Italia. Greipel, three years older at age 27, has only won four stages at the Vuelta and one at the Giro d'Italia. Those wins though have given him his first chance to lead HTC in a Grand Tour.
"It is a dream for me to be here as a leader in a Grand Tour. I could not image to be at this point three or four years ago. I hope I can show to the team that they were right to put their trust in me."
Cavendish and Greipel could soon be racing against each other in the Grand Tours because Greipel's contract expires at the end of this season. For now, though, he wants put contract negotiatons on hold and race the Giro d'Italia.
"I have never raced against him. Of course, I would like to know if I could beat him in the sprint. I am a racer and I want to race against the best rivals.
"What counts for me is that I am allowed to ride the big races, like the Tour and Milan-San Remo. Maybe I can talk about it more after the Giro."
Giro d'Italia 2010: Cycling Weekly's coverage index
2010 Giro d'Italia coverage in association with Zipvit
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