German claims solo victory at Tour of Luxembourg
André Greipel showcased his pre-Tour de France form by taking a surprise solo win on the final stage of the Tour of Luxembourg on Sunday, the first such victory of his career.
The German was part of the nine-man break that animated the day’s racing, alongside Andy Schleck (Trek Factory Racing), and was teed up for victory by his Lotto-Belisol teammate Greg Henderson, who attacked alone with 40 kilometres remaining.
The finale was over five laps of a 5.5km finishing circuit that featured the stiff Pabeierbierg climb, but the terrain did not discourage Greipel, who bridged across to Henderson with two laps remaining. Henderson swung off at the foot of the final climb, and Greipel’s power was enough to see him finish 14 seconds clear of the peloton, which was led home by overall winner Matti Breschel (Tinkoff-Saxo).
“This victory is something different than normal. It’s the first time in my pro career that I won solo,” Greipel said. “We really wanted to have someone in the break today because there was a chance it would make it in this last stage.”
Greipel paid tribute to Henderson’s efforts, explaining that his teammate’s attack had allowed him to sit on the break and save himself for his attack in the finale. “Tactically we rode a really good final together. I had cramps at the end so it wasn't easy on that steep climb. I had to go really hard there,” he said.
Lotto-Belisol directeur sportif Mario Aerts admitted that Greipel’s victory had been something of a surprise but said that it was an indication of his form ahead of the Tour de France. The German’s spring campaign was cut short by a broken collarbone sustained in a crash in the finale of Gent-Wevelgem, but he has claimed four wins since returning to action last month, winning a stage at the Tour of Belgium and World Ports Classic, and two in Luxembourg.
“This victory was unexpected for me, too, looking at the stage profile,” Aerts told RTBF. “We came to Luxembourg in the hope of taking our chance on the first road stage with André. That worked out, because the finale in Hesperange was relatively flat.
“He’s now going to the Ster ZLM Toer in the Netherlands and maybe he will be able to win one of the bunch finishes there. The fact is that André is ready for the Tour de France, which is only a month away.”
“This is of course a special victory because I reached the finish solo, but for me this is also a step towards the Tour de France,” Greipel said. “I am confident and the condition is well."
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