Greipel wins TDU stage one. No Groenewegen

Greipel. Perhaps more wins this year?

When we last saw Andre Greipel he was staggering his way through the Tour de France, with zero stage wins to his credit.

In his final shot on the Champs Elysees in Paris, he blew his timing yet again and let a 24 year old kid from LottoNL-Jumbo named Jumbo Dylan Groenewegen out-sprint him and take the honors. Second place is the absolute worst place to be on a sprinters showcase in the City of Lights.

Well, it’s a fresh new season and on stage one of the Tour Down Under there was no Groenewegen in sight. The big German was able to power his way past Mitchelton-Scott’s Caleb Ewan and World Champion Peter Sagan of Bora-Hansgrophe for his first victory of the year.

“A win is a win, I’m happy it turned out like that. To start the season with a win is always good for the team, for me. The criterium is one of the hardest races to win and when you do some small mistakes, you cannot win,” said Greipel.

By the time last year finished, there were open questions about whether Greipel has lost his confidence or top-end speed or racing instincts. It was a terrible time all around, with his mother dying after a long illness.

“It wasn’t the easiest year but that’s what sport is about. You can have ups and downs. I’ve had lots of ups but last year’s Tour wasn’t my best one. It wasn’t that I wasn’t there in the sprints. Sometimes I just had bad luck, plus there was a pretty strong Marcel Kittel, who made it hard for everyone to win stages. Sometimes you just have to accept that.”

Greipel has always been a quiet and classy guy on and off the bike. We assumed, given his age, that his speed was winding down and this might be his last season as a top sprinter on a WorldTour squad. That’s an assessment that doesn’t square with his own opinions.

“It’s nice when you’re 35 and everyone tells you, you will get slower. But I don’t feel it and I really like to race my bike. Every win is good for the whole team. We calculated that we are probably the oldest team around here but I think we have a lot of quality and experience in our team. You saw that today, and we have the right riders on our team.”

Yup, right team, new year, and no Groenewegen.



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