After missing out on a place in the HTC-Columbia squad for Milan-San Remo, Andre Greipel has expressed his displeasure with what he perceives to be second-billing on the team when he has outshone his British teammate, Mark Cavendish, so far this year.
Greipel opened the season by winning three stages, the points jersey and the overall title at the Tour Down Under. Since then he has won the Trofeo Magalluf-Palmanova at the Mallorca Challenge, and a stage at the Volta ao Algarve, giving him six wins so far on the year. His wins in Australia made him the first leader in the International Cycling Union (UCI) rankings, in which he is currently second.
Cavendish, on the other hand, has had suffered with severe dental problems and crashed several times. He is yet to bring in any results from the few races in which he has appeared.
Nevertheless, HTC-Columbia took Cavendish to Milan-San Remo, and have named him as their protected sprinter for the Tour de France.
Greipel believes he should have ridden La Classicissima, telling sport1.de: “That was a real blow for me. My riding hasn't been so bad that I didn't deserve to start.”
Greipel didn't even watch the race, instead taking his young family to the zoo. “You have to take advantage of days like this, if you aren't even nominated.
“Cavendish is having his problems right now. I have ridden some good races,” Greipel continued. “When it comes down to a sprint, you can count on me.”
The team has made it clear, at least to Greipel, that Cavendish is its number one, and he sees this as an indication that he – once again – won't be nominated for the Tour de France. “I have been satisfied with the team so far, but when I wasn't even at the start of Milan-San Remo, then I have to figure that I will be making my summer vacation on the Baltic Sea.”
Team manager Rolf Aldag would not comment on the Tour situation, saying it was too early to worry about July. “First Andre will ride the Giro d'Italia,” he said.
Until then, however, the 27-year-old is apparently scheduled to ride only a few more races, Rund um Köln (April 5), Tour of Turkey (April 11-18) and Rund um den Finanzplatz Frankfurt (May 1).
Cavendish is scheduled to ride the Tour of Catalunya, starting today, and the Tour of Flanders (April 4).
At the moment, Greipel is scheduled to ride the Giro d'Italia and Cavendish the Tour of California. However, the Briton been considering a return to the Giro, where he won three stages in 2009.