By Greg Johnson in Adelaide, Australia
André Greipel (Team High Road) claimed his maiden ProTour stage win at today's second Tour Down Under stage. The 25 year-old German proved his sprinting prowess by beating Australia's best in Sunday night's Down Under Classic – a pre-tour criterium – but today showed he's also a powerhouse after the longer, more challenging stages.
"I feel very good, I'm proud of it, I'm proud of the team – that they support me – it's very good," beamed the softly spoken rider after his win.
Greipel again out-classed top Australian sprinters Graeme Brown (Rabobank) and Allan Davis (UniSA-Australian National Team) to take Team High Road's first ProTour stage win of the season.
"I was a little bit lucky because Renshaw was on the right hand side so I couldn't pass him, but then towards the end he moved to the left so I could get past," he explained of his winning move.
He turned professional with Team Wiesenhof in 2005, where he won the Rheinland-Pfalz Rundfahrt's sprint jersey and Post Danmark Rundt's sixth stage. The German moved to T-Mobile – now Team High Road – in 2006 where he again had success at the Rheinland-Pfalz Rundfahrt, with two stage wins in 2006, before claiming two stage wins at the Sachsen-Tour International in 2007.
"I didn't need to go in any break [today], I could just stay in the bunch – my team-mates did a really good job," he said.
Greipel, who lives near Cologne, Germany, was discovered by the trainer of 1997 Tour de France champion Jan Ullrich, Peter Sager.
The youngster believes his team's success in Australia will help the squad's hunt for a sponsor to replace T-Mobile. The German telecommunications giant pulled its funding at the end of 2007, after the outfit's turbulent time with doping allegations.
"It's the best answer to win races to find a new sponsor – I think the team is better than last year," he said. "That was our reason to train in early November - to be good at Tour Down Under – and win races, that's the only thing we want to do."
Greipel expects to continue his sprint-stage charge for the remainder of the Tour Down Under, before heading to the squad's training camp in California, USA. While he won't find out the remainder of his programme until the training camp, he is hopeful his next target will be contesting Paris-Nice.
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