How times change — just ask Lance Armstrong. So it is with Andre Greipel and right now life is good. One upon a time he was winning second rate sprints in Turkey and wishing he had an HTC-Columbia train like rival Mark Cavendish.
Then he moved to Lotto and Cavendish jumped to Sky, then Omega-Pharma Quicksprint. Now, it’s the big German with the dominating train and Cavendish finding his way without eight dedicated riders in front of him.
Winning stage one of the Santos Tour Down Under, Greipel and his well-drilled squad sent an early season notice that they are back for more domination. (We can’t wait to see his face-off with Cavendish and the Omega crew.) The Manxman no longer has the Bathhurst Bulldog Mark Renshaw (third in today’s sprint for Blanco) or Bernie Eisel, who elected to stay at Sky.
The 135km route from Prospect to Lobethal was another showcase for the Lotto-Belisol squad — and Greipel’s twelfth win in the Australian stage race. Sky had no answers and Renshaw did a fine job just hoisting himself from seventh to third place. Still, he couldn’t get close to Arnaud Demare (FDJ) who took second, several bike lengths behind Greipel.
“We expected more attacks,” said Greipel. “The team did an awesome job again. It was hard to control and keep me up the front but the team did an awesome job.” Yeah, sure, it was a challenge but once inside the final kilometers, everybody’s bet was on the man with the massive thighs.
Renshaw said last week that he thought the switch from lead-out man to sprinter would be more of a psychological change but soon learned that wasn’t the case. Now he’s back on the hardcore physical training and his kick looks promising for future stages.
“I think I am capable of a win this week. I have a good team working for me, so I think it’s realistic to try to win a stage. I am competitive. Today was a pretty tough sprint stage,” said Renshaw.
No matter how you break it down, mental or physical, you’re going to need both and even isn’t enough. You may still be eight guys short of victory.