Greipel: I've completely lost my instinct on the bike

Andre Greipel may be one of the most richly experienced and decorated sprinters in the pro peloton, but the 35-year-old recognises that he has lost his way of late, and has 'lost all instinct on the bike'.

The German's 2017 season started in typical fashion, with a few early-season wins leading into a victory at the Giro d'Italia to continue his run of at least one stage win in each Grand Tour he'd entered since 2008. That run, however, came to an end at the Tour de France in July, where he landed four top three finishes from seven bunch sprints, but no victories.

Since then, Greipel was 34th in the bunch sprint at RideLondon, before heading to the BinckBank Tour this week, where he has placed ninth on the opening stage and 13th on stage 3.

It was Wednesday's stage 3 that caused him to reflect on his loss of touch, as he was perfectly positioned with 400 metres to go before disappearing from the picture altogether as Peter Sagan claimed his second victory of the race.

"As you can see, the team continues to believe in me, but it's as if I've lost all my instincts to make the right decisions," Greipel told Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad from the steps of the Lotto Soudal bus after the stage.

"I was in fourth place with 400 meters to go, and in the end, I couldn't even sprint. I've completely lost my instinct on the bike."

Confidence issues are nothing new to Greipel, with Lotto Soudal boss Marc Sergeant recognising that he has, at times, hesitated at key moments, especially in messy sprints in inclement conditions. Nevertheless, the German's palmares speaks for itself, with nearly 150 victories, and 22 of those in Grand Tours.

"This is not my best time as a cyclist," Greipel acknowledged. "What can I do about it?"

Confident that Greipel isn't suffering a decline in top-end speed, for Lotto Soudal it's a case of waiting for things to click back into place.

"It's frustrating. For us, but especially for him. It's just not working," directeur sportif Herman Frison told Nieuwsblad. "André will have to flick the switch himself."

Greipel's remaining targets this season are likely to be the Cyclassics Hamburg one-day race - which he won in 2015 - on August 20, and the Tour of Britain in early September. There is, on paper, one remaining sprint opportunity at the BinckBank Tour, on Thursday's stage 4. 

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