André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) is becoming more relaxed and composed in the sprints, a snowball effect that’s helping him win more. Today, the German took his second sprint win in the Tour de France when the fifth stage finished in Saint-Quentin.
“He was smart enough to let the other ones [Matt Goss of team Orica] start early. That’s what I mean, he has confidence,” General manager, Marc Sergeant told Cycling Weekly. “Otherwise, you panic and start sprinting. How he lets two or three riders pass. Amazing how he won.”
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Greipel nearly crashed at two kilometres out with Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) and Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp). He had to unclip from his pedals, but regained his composure.
Cavendish failed to show in the sprint after yesterday’s crash in Rouen. He faded when Goss started his sprint and left it to Greipel. Greipel won over Juan José Haedo (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) and Goss.
“It’s experience from my team-mates,” Greipel said in the press conference.
His team led for most of the day. Sky took over, but Lotto finished the job. Only a brief interruption by Goss and Orica team-mate Daryl Impey seem to cause havoc.
“Henderson was a bit tired and we needed to time it right,” Greipel added. “I was lucky Goss passed me and I could use him. I saved some power there.”
Of the three sprint wins so far, World Champion Cavendish won one and Greipel two. This was the first of the two ahead of Cavendish.
“For the press and public, it is a bonus, but in our minds, we just go off our strength and focus on the win,” Sergeant said.
“I don’t know why everyone thinks that I can’t beat him,” Greipel added. “I beat him in the last months. I have the best team around me, so why can’t I beat him. On Monday I was tired, yesterday he crashed.”
Greipel now has three Tour stage wins compared to Cavendish’s 21. He has three or possibly four more chances to win in this Tour, the last being when the race ends in Paris on July 22.
“It’s only his second Tour, which also makes a big difference. He has full confidence of the whole team,” Sergeant said. “I think that we’ve built up pretty good with him, not in Dauphine or Switzerland [stage races], but in lower profile races to have the opportunity to test and really go for the perfection. What we saw in Belgium, in Tournai, yesterday and today – that’s close to perfection.”
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