HTC-Columbia frustrated at Paris-Nice

Greipel and Martin rue crashes, missed chances

HTC-Columbia's Andre Greipel and Tony Martin have described the frustration of the opening days of Paris-Nice, which have seen both riders involved in crashes and miss out on hoped-for stage wins.

Stages one and two looked tailor-made for the team's sprinter, Greipel, to contest mass sprint finishes, but in Monday's stage one, “the strong crosswinds made things difficult,” Greipel said on his website. “Unfortunately I crashed around 25 kilometres before the finish, so I didn't have the chance to go with the Caisse d'Epargne attack and couldn't be involved in the finale.”

The second of the “very nervous” stages featured a “tailwind the whole day, but still, things looked better going into the finale, which with its many curves was very dangerous. About 400 metres before the finish I was in seventh position and so things looked good for the sprint.”

However, a touch of wheels several riders ahead caused a dramatic crash. While Greipel didn't go down, he was held back and could “again, only watch the action from behind.”

Teammate Martin wasn't so lucky. After a dismal prologue, he had come back strong in the first stage, launching a last-minute attack at the end of the race into Contres. Though unsuccessful, Martin had signaled the move as a clear indication that things were improving.

However, Martin was unable to avoid the crash on Tuesday as Greipel had. Jimmy Casper of Saur-Sojasun went down right front of him, with the HTC rider tumbling over his handlebars and on to his left side.

“I only have a few bruises, but nothing serious,” Martin told Radsport-News.com. “The race was very nervous again today and I am happy that nothing worse happened.”

HTC-Columbia will commence Wednesday's reduced third stage of Paris-Nice with seven riders, after Hayden Roulston abandoned on Tuesday. A reason was not given.

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