It was a triumphant moment for the German sprinter, who added his 11th stage win to his Tour of Turkey highlights, but he was more impressed with his teammate Kris Boeckmans, who placed third on the day and showed phenomenal recovery from a horrific crash at the Vuelta a Espana last year.
“The team performance was quite impressive,” Greipel said in a team press release. “It would have been nice as well if one of the teammates had won. Kris Boeckmans deserved it for sure as it was so impressive that he was part of the front group. It would have been emotional if he had won, but we stuck to the plan and I did the sprint.”
Boeckmans crashed during stage 8 at the Vuelta a Espana last year after hitting pothole while taking a drink from his water bottle. Doctors placed him in a medically induced coma for more than a week. His injuries included a concussion, severe facial trauma, broken ribs and bleeding in his lung. He later revealed that he almost died six times in a report on Nieuwsblad.nl.
After a rehabilitation period of six months, he returned to racing at the Handzame Classic on March 18. He also raced at the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya and Scheldeprijs before starting the Tour of Turkey.
Boeckmans and Greipel were among the six Lotto Soudal riders and two Team Roth riders that split off the front of stage 3 through strong crosswinds when echelons were forming.
“It may have looked easy on TV but it was a hard race with a speed of up to fifty kilometres an hour in the beginning,” Greipel said. “We addressed our echelon skills today and it couldn’t have ended better than it did.”
Greipel hasn’t had the early season he was hoping for. He opened the year with two wins at the Mallorca Challenge but then was derailed after a crash on the fifth stage of the Volta ao Algarve. He suffered bruises and abrasions as well as a broken rib. He crashed again during the first stage of the Tour of Turkey.
“It’s great to take the victory after such a strong race of the team,” Greipel said. “This win is also good for the head after all the bad luck I had this season. I am not one hundred per cent yet, my calf is still swollen and a bit stiff after crashing on Sunday, but it didn’t keep me from winning today.”