André Greipel says his “instinct as a sprinter is gone” as he looks back on his recent lack of results.
The German stepped down to the Professional Continental ranks with Arkéa Samsic for 2019, having struggled for results with Lotto-Soudal.
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With just a stage win in La Tropicale Amissa Bongo this year, Greipel feels his best days may be behind him.
“My instinct as a sprinter is gone,” he told Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws after another disappointing finish in Scheldeprijs on Wednesday (April 11).
“I just don’t feel ready to fight for the right positions any more.
“Physically I am fine. When I sprint in training, I still have the same capabilities as my best times.”
The 36-year-old rode a mixed 2018 season, taking stage wins in the Tour Down Under and Tour of Britain, but abandoning the Tour de France on stage 12 after he fell outside the time cut.
He added: “Maybe I have become too old. That could be it right?
“I’m looking for reasons why it doesn’t work anymore.
“I need a click and it just won’t come.”
Greipel is one among a handful of era-defining sprinters struggling to compete this season.
Marcel Kittel’s Katusha-Alpecin team are planning a “crisis meeting” over the start sprinter’s recent run of poor form.
After an emphatic win in Challenge Mallorca in January, Kittel has not followed through on the expected return to form.
The German finished 99th in Scheldeprijs, a race he has won five times before, after he crashed in the closing kilometres.
Dimension Data’s Mark Cavendish has been absent from racing since he pulled out of Paris-Nice last month.
The Brit has been struggling with illness in recent years and took a long lay-off last season to recover.
But his team said the early season had taken its toll on Cavendish and the 33-year-old needs more time to rest, with the Tour de France the only race he is currently scheduled to ride.