Greipel signs off from HTC-Columbia with final win

German sprinter to end his season at the world championships

André Greipel’s victory on the last stage of the Tour of Britain in London was his 21st victory of the 2010 season and also his final race with the HTC-Columbia team.

The German sprinter will ride the world championships in Australia but it will be his final race of the season. After five seasons with T-Mobile and then HTC-Columbia, he will ride for Omega Pharma-Lotto in 2011 and finally get a chance to ride the Tour de France and go head to head with Mark Cavendish in the sprints.

Greipel has been critical of HTC-Columbia’s preference for Cavendish for the big races, but after winning so much and with his season virtually over; he is more relaxed and is looking to the future rather than dwelling on the past.

“I’m a little tired after a long season but I’m happy. I’ve beaten my number of wins from 2009 and I think that is a good achievement,” he told Cyclingnews.

“The Tour of Britain is my last race with HTC-Columbia and so it's a moment of change for me. Now I’ve got a few days at home to recover and train a little and then I’ll travel to Australia. It’s a long way to go for a race but I like Australia, I’ve been successful there in the past...”

Greipel won three stages and the overall classification at this year’s Tour Down Under and won four stages and the overall in 2008. He has been named as team leader for Germany, in a squad that also includes Bert Grabsch, Tony Martin, Marcel Sieberg, Danilo Hondo, Paul Martens, Christian Knees, Dominik Klemme, and Fabian Wegmann.

“I rode on the course in Geelong before the Tour Down Under. It’s not easy but I think my form is pretty good now and if it ends in a sprint I think I can be up there,” he said.

“We have a good team and Tony Martin is also on form. He will target the time trial first, but he was really strong in the Tour of Britain and could be a contender in the road race, too.”

Greipel has often clashed with Mark Cavendish about selection for Milan-San Remo and the Tour de France.  The two haven't ridden together since the 2008 Giro d'Italia, with HTC-Columbia opting to keep the two riders on totally different race programmes. Greipel is happy that he will be able to target Milan-San Remo next spring and then go shoulder to shoulder with Cavendish in the sprints in the Tour de France.

He agreed to join Omega Pharma after spending this July on holiday.  HTC-Columbia teammates Adam Hansen, Gert Dockx and Vicente Reynes will play a key role in his lead out train, as will Jurgen Van de Walle, who will also join the team from rival QuickStep.

“I’m looking forward to next year. There was a lot of talk about my relationship with Mark Cavendish but I never had a problem with him. If anything, he had a problem with me in the team,” Greipel said.

“The biggest factor about changing teams was being able to ride the Tour de France. I think a rider of my level, with the success I’ve had, should be able to contest the sprints in the Tour de France but I’ve never been able to do that at HTC-Columbia. It’s the same for Milan-San Remo. But I think I can do something in a race like that.”

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