André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) has yet to win in this year's Tour de France but his rivals say he is favourite for Sunday's final stage
The German sprinter has not won a stage of this year’s Tour yet and is enduring his worst season in terms of wins up until this point of the year since 2007.
But his expected rivals on the Champs-Élysées believe that the Lotto-Soudal man is in the strongest shape to win in the French capital.
Four of the would-be contenders in Paris – Mark Cavendish (Dimension-Data), Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step Floors), Arnaud Démare (FDJ) and Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) – will not be present, thus giving hope to more sprinters.
“Greipel will be motivated,” Katusha-Alpecin’s Alexander Kristoff predicted. “He has not won a stage of this Tour yet and he didn’t look bad in the climbs the past days. He will be really set for Sunday.”
Greipel has won the final stage of the Tour twice before, and Dimension Data’s Edvald Boasson Hagen – who has impressively stepped up to the role of team leader in Cavendish’s absence – has singled out the German. He said: “Greipel is always good up there. For sure he will be excited.
“I was close to Kittel when he was here and that was good for my motivation. I’m ready to try and I look forward to doing that.”
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Another one backing Greipel was Dylan Groenewegen, LottoNL-Jumbo’s designated rider in Paris, who said that there are still a number of riders capable of winning, despite a depleted field of fast men.
“We do have a lot of sprinters still in the race,” the Dutchman said. “Greipel will be there, Boasson-Hagen, [Nacer] Bouhanni, too. These are good riders. Boasson-Hagen is strong and he has showed that here. We will try to beat him.
“Marcel was very strong, he was the best sprinter, but he is home now so it makes it a better chance of victory for a lot of sprinters.”
John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) and green jersey incumbent Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) were both picked out as potential winners by Kristoff who hopes that he can overcome the injuries he sustained in a crash in the Alps.
“If I did not crash, I would be quite optimistic,” the Norwegian said. “I know that today [stage 19] I will not be there at the finish, but hopefully on Sunday I can feel a bit better.
“I was hoping for way more in this Tour. I came into it with quite good shape, but the crash was the worst thing that could happen.”