André Greipel might have taken longer than previous seasons to open his season account due to a changed racing programme but the German champion is happy with his current level of form ahead of the classics. Stage 5 victory at the Volta ao Algarve was the fifth of the season for Lotto Soudal and Greipel's first since the Sparkassen Münsterland Giro in October last year.
"It's always a nice feeling to get that first win of the season," Greipel said. "The team set up the sprint perfectly for me. They did a great job all day long. A lot of Portuguese teams tried to get in the breakaway. The situation changed a few times, at the end seven riders were in front. We were worried that if they would all work together, they could stay ahead until the finish. Sean De Bie and Stig Broeckx controlled the breakaway. We knew the finish area, which really suited us. We had a plan and it worked out well."
Having skipped his traditional season opening races in Australia, Qatar and Oman, Greipel is confident that the Portuguese race will provide the necessarily groundwork for success in his upcoming racing.
"The Volta ao Algarve is a good race for us to lay the foundations for the next races," he said. "My condition is good, the same goes for the teammates. The spirit is good, we all worked for one goal. We look forward to what's coming."
Greipel's next race is the Belgian classic, Kuurne–Brussels-Kuurne, where he will look to better his third place from 2009 with his fresh legs.
"It was not easy for me to skip the Tour Down Under this year, I participated seven years in a row," he said. "I started the competition later than usual. I had a calmer start and hopefully that pays off during the season and I'll be more fresh. The same goes for the others who rode a different programme.
"The next few days will be more relaxed and next weekend the classic season can begin. I will ride Kuurne–Brussels–Kuurne. I'm ready for it, hopefully the weather will be good."
After Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, Greipel's racing program will see him line up at Paris-Nice before undertaking an almost full classics campaign ahead of his return to the Giro d'Italia.