After two wins in two days, Lotto-Belisol sprinter André Greipel will be going for a third successive victory on the final flat stage of the Tour's opening week to Metz. The powerful German admitted he had had some good fortune when he managed to avoid the crash that took out Tyler Farrar late on Thursday's stage to Saint-Quentin, and praised his teammates for the efforts they made to get him back into contention.
"I needed some good bike handling to stay on my bike when Farrar crashed. I did drop back quite a few places, but Adam Hansen was waiting for me and he brought me back up to our other teammates. So we had some luck there, but then the train worked perfectly again heading into quite a tough finish. It was perhaps 700m full gas," said Greipel.
Unlike the stage four sprint in Rouen that didn't feature Mark Cavendish after he had crashed out, Greipel beat his Sky rival with something to spare in Saint-Quentin. Asked if he had savoured this victory more for that reason, the German responded: "I don't know why everybody is saying that I can't beat Cavendish. I did it last year at the Tour and I've done it before.
"I've got the best team around me so why shouldn't I have the ability to beat him? If I stay on their wheels I'm always there when I need to be and that makes it easy."
Among the many delighted faces around the Lotto team bus following Greipel's second stage win was DS Herman Frison, who praised the work his riders had done throughout the stage and suggested the second win was more laudable. "The teamwork was very good from the beginning. Yesterday we had a great victory, but there were many questions because André won after Cav had crashed. But today he won when Cav was there. He had Cav on his wheel, but André pulled it off," said Frison.
He acknowledged that Lotto had benefited from the pace-making undertaken by some of the GC riders' teams, particularly Sky and BMC. "I think after all of the crashes we had yesterday and the day before that, all of the riders interested in the overall classification wanted to stay right out of trouble. You could see that Wiggins' team was on one side of the road and Evans' team was on the other."
Frison now sees no reason why Greipel shouldn't take a third consecutive success in Metz. "It's a flat stage, the final one before the mountains and we've shown we've got a strong team. I hope that RadioShack want to ride in defence of the yellow jersey and we can go for our third victory in three days."
He confirmed that Lotto aren't yet interested in competing wholeheartedly for the green jersey. Their focus remains purely on stage wins. "We're not thinking about the green jersey at the moment. Okay, if it comes our way that's good, but for the moment there's no discussion about that. We're going for victories not for the green jersey. We're not thinking about the intermediate sprints, but saving energy for the final," said Frison.
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Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling. He is the author of The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races (Bloomsbury, March 2014) and has translated Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break (Bloomsbury, July 2014).
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