The André Greipel-Mark Cavendish duel has been a fascinating subplot to this year’s Tour de France, not least because the bitterness that marked the pair’s time together at Highroad appears to have been tempered since Greipel’s departure from the team last winter.
Cavendish was magnanimous after being pipped by his German rival on stage 10, and following the reversal of that result on Wednesday, Greipel’s ire was directed not at Cavendish, but squarely at French fast man Romain Feillu (Vacansoleil-DCM).
"We tried again today and the team did a great job," Greipel told reporters huddled around the Omega Pharma-Lotto team bus in Lavaur after the finish. He singled out Jurgen Roelandts for particular praise for his efforts in leading him out, but complained at what he perceived to be the careless sprinting of Feillu in the finale.
"We had no luck today. I had some great help from Roelandts, but I had some problems with Feillu," Greipel said. "It’s a shame, because it was the first time that Jurgen and I found each other in the sprint."
Greipel accused Feillu of switching wheels several times in the breathless run-in to Lavaur and showing little consideration for the safety of his fellow sprinters. The German was particularly aggrieved by Feillu’s attempts to latch onto Roedlandt’s wheel in the final kilometre.
"Romain Feillu did a crazy sprint and he just didn’t care," Greipel claimed. "He needs to choose a wheel but he changes wheel every 50 metres. It’s pretty dangerous when somebody in the bunch is going crazy to get the right spot."
Feillu set to abandon Tour de France
Feillu crossed the line in 6th place, and insisted to Sporza that he had done nothing wrong in the final throes of the day’s stage. "I jumped on to Roedlandt’s wheel because if you have nobody to lead you out in the sprint, you have to jump from wheel to wheel," Feillu said.
The Frenchman, who has been struggled with tendinitis in this Tour, subsequently revealed that he is on the point of abandoning the race ahead of its entry into the Pyrenees.
"It’s not getting better at all, if anything it’s getting worse and worse," Feillu told rmc.fr. "I’m very disappointed, I’m leaving the Tour with some placings but without winning. I have nothing to reproach myself for, I’ve simply been missing a bit of luck. I’ll talk with the management, but abandoning would be the best solution. I can’t do the whole Tour like that, it’s not possible."