André Greipel won stage four at the Tour Down Under on Friday, meaning he has won three out of the four stages at the first 2010 ProTour race in Australia. The German's HTC-Columbia team-mates played a big role in the success, especially on Friday, when strong winds made chasing the early breakaway and then a late attack by Lance Armstrong an arduous task.
"It was a very special day of racing and one that I'll remember for a long time," said team director Allan Peiper. "It was a day that proved the strength of the team and their ability to work together."
A breakaway of six riders left the pack early forcing HTC-Columbia to work hard to defend Greipel's ochre-coloured leader's jersey. "They were forced to ride at the front for the first 100km chasing the break," said Peiper. "Then they took a small rest during the headwind section and moved back to the front when RadioShack attacked towards the end. They did all that work and then came together again to do a perfect lead out."
Greipel was very happy with his third win of the week. "What can I say, it's unbelievable," he wrote on his personal website. "Just before the finish there was more wind. Armstrong's team [RadioShack] tried to create an echelon, but we were able to foil this and then took everyone on our own echelon for five kilometres."
The German sprinter thanked his team-mates and also his team manager, Bob Stapleton, albeit for a very different favour. "Just before the start, I noticed that my carbon shoe insole was broken. So I put in some new ones, that I never rode with. During the very first kilometres they hurt like hell, so I dropped back to the car and asked if there were any insoles from sneakers around. Thank God our team manager Bob Stapleton wore sneakers. He gave me his insoles right away and I was able to continue without pain."
Greipel is looking forward to the last two stages of the Tour Down Under at the weekend, where he hopes to defend his overall lead. "We feel good," he said. "Tomorrow will be a hard day but the guys will look after me on the hills and hopefully we can stay in the front group."