Greipel, who turned professional in 2005 and has since racked up more than 150 victories, placed 10th in his final outing on Sunday.
Perhaps fittingly, the race was won by Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-QuickStep), the biggest rival of the German’s career, despite the pair starting out on the same team at High Road.
Greipel crossed the line in 10th place from a fragmented bunch in grim conditions, and was greeted with hugs from his family beyond the line. Cavendish was also on hand to offer a warm embrace.
“It’s finished now,” Greipel said in a video posted by his Israel Start-Up Nation team.
“I did my maximum. There was nothing more in the legs today. I’m happy now that this day is finished and now I try to continue thinking positively for the future, and we’ll see what happens.”
Greipel announced his retirement in June, having initially planned to race through 2022 with Israel Start-Up Nation. He started his career back in 2005 with the German Wiesenhof team, collecting his first win at the Denmark Tour, before quickly moving to the sport’s top tier with T-Mobile.
He won two races in 2006 and 2007 but the victories began flowing in 2008, with four stages and the overall at the Tour Down Under, plus a stage of the Giro d’Italia. He added 40 more wins across 2009 and 2010, including four at the 2009 Vuelta a España, before leaving for the team now known as Lotto Soudal for a greater leadership role and access to the Tour de France away from Cavendish’s shadow.
He quickly became a hugely successful and consistent breadwinner at the Belgian team, winning a stage on his Tour de France debut in 2011 and three more the following year. He strung together a remarkable run of claiming at least one win in 12 consecutive Grand Tour starts and, after striking four times at the 2015 Tour, took his Tour tally to 11, and his Giro tally to seven.
Greipel left Lotto Soudal at the end of 2018 on a sour note as he was effectively forced out due to a management reshuffle, with Caleb Ewan his replacement as lead sprinter. He spent a year at French squad Arkéa-Samsic but cancelled his contract prematurely and joined Israel Start-Up Nation in 2020.
Having gone two years without a win, citing confidence issues, he struck again this May at the Challenge Mallorca, and once more a few days later at the Ruta del Sol. He rode his final Tour de France before choosing to bow out on German soil.
"I’m not looking back in anger. I’m looking to the future with a lot of happiness because I can do what I want,” Greipel said when he announced his retirement.
“I can suffer when I want and of course, spend a lot of time with my family. I wish everyone a good time in the pro peloton. I hope to somehow stay in cycling. I’m really thankful for everyone around me in my career. My family, my trainers, and everybody who was part of my career. I’ll see you around. Ciao, ciao."
Legendary sprinters and rivals Andre Greipel and Mark Cavendish met one more time at end of race at Sparkassen Münsterland Giro. Total of 314 pro wins (Greipel 158, Cavendish 156). Today's was Cav's 156th.pic.twitter.com/z4NkFzbakNOctober 3, 2021
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