André Greipel will once again be leading Lotto-Belisol’s charge for stage victories in the bunch sprints at the Tour de France. The German has won more than any other rider this season and is looking to add to that during the opening stage from Leeds to Harrogate on Saturday.
Along with the other sprinters, Greipel has a shot at taking the yellow jersey. It would be the first time in his career to wear a Grand Tour leader’s jersey, but it won’t be a simple task. Stage 1 takes the riders across three classified climbs, which could cause some sprinters problems.
“It’s not easy. I like the finish, but the middle part is not really for the sprinters. We just have to see how the race develops,” Greipel told Cyclingnews. “A chance and to have it (the yellow jersey), there is a very big difference. It’s racing, otherwise I would play chess and I can see the tactics and follow. It’s bike racing.”
Greipel was a latecomer to the Tour de France, making his debut in 2011. He has since won five stage of the race, including one last season. He has often found himself overshadowed by some of the other sprinters on cycling’s biggest stage. His fellow compatriot Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) led the way, in terms of victories, with four stage wins in last season. Despite that, Greipel remains one of the fastest men in the peloton.
This year sees another extremely strong field of sprinters, including Kittel, Mark Cavendish, Arnaud Démare and Peter Sagan to name but a few. Each bring their own train and their own tactics, making this year's sprint competition an exciting prospect. After retaining his German national title last weekend, the Lotto rider heads into the Tour de France with confidence in his own form and that of his team.
“I think I have really good condition and I feel good. I am looking forward to the start now,” he said. “All the time there is a lot of good sprinters here. We have a really classy field of sprinters here. All the lead-out trains are really close to each other, it’s like track sprinting. At the end, the team makes the difference, not the sprinter.
“Of course we’re going to try and be in the mix for the bunch sprints. I have the support of the team. It’s me who has the victories but the whole team is part of it. We are not counting my victories we are not counting the victories of the team.”