Greipel counting down days to Tour de France

Arkéa-Samsic's André Greipel was disappointed not to be able to contend for victory in the bunch-sprint finish to stage 3 of the Critérium du Dauphiné in Riom on Tuesday. The veteran sprinter thanked his team for their hard work in trying to put him in the mix, and could yet get another chance on Thursday's fifth stage to Voiron, but the 36-year-old will otherwise look ahead to next month's Tour de France – where he'll try to add to his haul of 11 sprint wins at La Grande Boucle.

"The team did an amazing job," Greipel said on his team's website after stage 3, which was won by Bora-Hansgrohe's Sam Bennett. "They were around me the whole day. It was a cold day on the bike, but it was the same for everyone. But it wasn't an easy day. That's no excuse – you just have to go with whatever the weather brings – but they're not my favourite conditions.

"In the finale, we did our best – all of us. I was trying to get onto Bennett's wheel, but it was a real fight – with his teammates, in particular. But that's sprinting for you; it's a tough game," he said after finishing a disappointing 15th.

Sports director Yvon Ledanois was also happy with the team's efforts.

"The team worked really well throughout the stage, despite the rain and cold," Ledanois said. "Really, our guys didn't put a foot wrong, and they did everything they could.

"It's a shame, but André was beaten by some stronger riders in the Dauphiné's first sprint. We simply didn't get the result that we wanted," he said.

"I'm know that I'm heading in the right direction, and I'm feeling better and better," Greipel added. "At the end of the day, I couldn't really sprint the way I wanted to. I was hoping for something better, but now we just have to look forward."

Along with French climber Warren Barguil, Greipel will lead the Arkéa-Samsic team at the Tour, which starts in Brussels, Belgium, on July 6. The French Pro Continental team was handed one of four 'wild card' places in late March, joining Total Direct Energie, Wanty-Groupe Gobert and Cofidis.

Greipel joined Arkéa-Samsic for the 2019 season, having spent the previous eight years with Belgian WorldTour team Lotto Soudal. He has won 11 stages at the Tour since 2011, with his last victory there having come in 2016.

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