By Susan Westemeyer
André Greipel of Team Columbia won races over the whole season, from the Tour Down Under in January to the Münsterland Giro in October. "I stayed healthy and could carry out my training as planned," he told Cyclingnews. "The race planning was well thought out and I never lost my focus."
The German sprinter had not expected the season to work out so well, concluding it with a total of 15 victories. "I wanted to start the season well in Down Under and I did that." Of course, his teammates helped him achieve his success. "Sure, I had a lot of wins, but the team had a very large part in that. I am thankful to each one of them."
The season started out with a bit of uncertainty, as the team had no sponsor. T-Mobile had withdrawn in November, and owner Bob Stapleton continued the squad under the name of his management company, High Road Sports.
The team had faith in its manager. "Bob Stapleton never had a doubt that he would find a sponsor," Greipel noted. "He always kept us informed about the situation and that allowed us to concentrate on riding."
As good as his season was, there was another Columbia sprinter who was even better, Mark Cavendish. But there was no conflict between the two, not even in the Giro d'Italia, where Cavendish won two stages and Greipel one. Both had gone into the race looking for stage wins.
"The team management gave everyone their assignments before each stage and there was no discussion about it. I tried to do my job 100 percent."
Another highlight of the year was watching teammate and friend Bert Grabsch win the World time trial championship title. Greipel lives in the same apartment building in the Cologne, Germany, area with Bert's older brother Ralf, of Team Milram, and Columbia teammate Marcel Sieberg. "My girlfriend, Ralf and his wife, Marcel and his girlfriend – we all watched the time trial together and we were very proud of him."
Proud, but not surprised. "Before the race we had always told him that he would be world champion, and he proved us right."