André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) says a dream has been fulfilled by wearing the Giro d’Italia‘s pink jersey of overall classification leader. The German earned the prestigious top today after winning the sprint in Tortolì, along Sardinia’s eastern coast.
By placing third in stage one and first in stage two, Greipel earned enough bonus seconds to take the lead from Austrian Lukas Pöstlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe).
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“It’s a childhood dream to wear a jersey like this,” the German explained.
“We tried last year but it didn’t work out, so this year was another chance. We tired yesterday but it didn’t work and it paid off today. I’m happy to have reached our goal, and we’ll enjoy tomorrow’s stage with the jersey.”
Greipel heads into stage three, another sprinters’ stage, as the Giro’s overall leader with four seconds on Pöstlberger and eight on Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott). If he retains it during that stage then he’ll keep it through the transfer/rest day on Monday, before almost certainly losing it on Tuesday, when the race finishes on Mount Etna.
He now counts 11 Tour de France stage wins and seven in the Giro. Last year, he won three times before pulling out in the mountainous third week with the points jersey still on his back.
“That was not an easy decision last year, to be honest, but this year is another chance for stage wins. We did so second day and got the pink jersey. I’m really proud to have made this possible.”
Many followers did not expect the sprinters to keep up with the front-runners over the final 1,000-metre pass at 20km left to race in stage two. But Greipel was aided by the slower pace in the group after an early escape went free.
“I didn’t believe in a sprint today. We expected more attacks in the beginning and I think the head wind played in our favour,” he said. “Nobody tried anything on the last climb, which could have exploded the race for sure.”
Greipel’s success will be warmly welcomed by his Belgian WorldTour team, Lotto-Soudal, which suffered through the Classics without a win.
“When you ride Classics as a Belgian team, you always try to be successful, but others were prepared too. We fought for it, and for sure the results didn’t come as expected. That’s why it was really important to be successful here in the Giro.
“I think we’ve come to a turning point for our team.”