As he savoured his sixth stage win at the Tour of Britain, and the third time he has taken the leader’s jersey after the first stage, Andre Greipel also looked to the future, when he will move from Lotto Soudal to the French Pro Continenal team Fortuneo-Samsic, in what was perhaps the most surprising transfer deal of the season.
The Gorilla of Rostock conceded that the move to the French team is set to be “a big challenge for me. I think it’s a pretty ambitious team. They already have quite a big history. It's existed since 2000 as an amateur team, and they turned professional in 2005. They're growing every year. I wouldn’t say it’s an adventure, but I’m pretty happy, and I hope I can help the team on the way that they want to reach. We'll find out next year.”
Part of that challenge for the 36-year-old will be to build a support team around him for the sprints - all the more so as he revealed in Newport that he will not take any teammates from Lotto Soudal with him.
“First we have to get together, and I have to get to know the riders. They have some guys with potential on the sprinting side, like [Michael] Carbel, [Bram] Welten, [Florian] Vachon - they know how to do it. I just need to get to know the way they ride.
“As you could see in recent races, sprinting isn’t always about the lead-out train. Quick-Step make it to perfection in every sprint but if you see the Tour de France, it’s not about leadout trains - it’s about putting the sprinter in the best position. Sometimes it’s two or three guys moving around to get the sprinter in place - you have to adapt. There is a lot of work to do, I guess.”
Greipel had a difficult summer, with no stage win to his name in the Tour de France - where he has crossed the line first 22 times before - and a bitter break-up with Lotto Soudal after spending six happy years at the Belgian team.
“Lotto is a closed book now,” said the German. “I’m super happy with everything I achieved with this team. I’m not a guy who looks back in anger. I’m just trying to enjoy every race now while I’m in this team. I still love it even if it was a tough last two months. Mentally, it’s not been easy, but it’s a closed book.”
His victory in Newport came at the expense of two of the up and coming stars of the sprint, Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) and Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott) - the latter, ironically enough, the man who has ousted him at Lotto. But Greipel was adamant that putting one over the youngsters was not a prime source of satisfaction.
“I just need fun during racing. There are always good sprinters there. You need to stick to the plan - win together, lose together - and today I was just happy I could finish it off. It doesn’t matter against who, but it makes a difference if I have fun on the bike.”