Greipel: This could be my last Tour de France

German sprinter: "I think there's still life in my legs"

With 11 Tour de France stage wins to his name and a glittering career now in its autumn, Andre Greipel is realistic enough to know that the 2019 Tour de France could be his last.

The 36-year-old hasn't won a stage in the race since 2016 and moved to Arkea Samsic over the winter after becoming surplus to requirements at Lotto Soudal last season. The Belgian squad signed Caleb Ewan to replace their German star but this season Greipel has struggled with health issues and not found his best form. Other than a stage win in La Tropicale Amissa Bongo in January he has fired blanks, with a couple of top ten results his only other results of note. He quit the Criterium du Dauphine during the final weekend in the mountains in June but he arrived in Brussels this week in a relaxed mood. At his age, and with his palmares, he has little to prove other than to himself.

"We're going to find out how my form is over the next three weeks," he told Cyclingews and SBS on Thursday in the Belgian capital.

"I had a lot of health issues in the last two months but I'll try and enjoy the Tour. I'm happy to be here. How it turns out, we'll find out. The health issues are okay. I'm hoping for good legs."

Arkea arrive at the Tour with Greipel and new French champion Warren Barguil as their protected riders. The French rider will target mountain stages and possible top-ten on GC, while Greipel will be supported on the flat roads as he looks to win a twelfth career stage.

"I wouldn't call it a lead-out train. I've got riders helping me for a good position. It's not easy to try and compete against the sprinters here but it's good to be back. This could be my last Tour with the status of the team, you never know if we're selected next year. I'm going to try and enjoy it and take it as if it's my last. If I look at my legs, I think there's still life in them."

Mark Cavendish is one of Greipel's rivals who will not be at the Tour this year. The pair used to ride together at High Road and endured a difficult relationship at times before Greipel moved to Lotto. Over the last few years, as the riders have mellowed with age, their relationship has improved and Greipel, who was left off Lotto's Tour team last year, had nothing but kind words for the British sprinter after he was controversially left off the Dimension Data team.

"There's always a reason why someone isn't selected for the Tour de France. For sure, he's one of the riders who was always there in the sprints and got a lot of victories. For sure there's someone missing. I hope for him that he can come back next year."

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