German national champion André Greipel put a brave face on his defeat in the opening bunch sprint of the Giro d'Italia, admitting that he miscalculated on the steadily rising finish in Genoa. Greipel finally had to settle for third behind Sky's Elia Viviani and Moreno Hofland.
Widely tipped as the leading sprinter of the Giro d'Italia, the Lotto-Soudal rider said he had a slight problem with one of his shoes during the last part of his stage but he said he had been perfectly backed up by his team and made no excuses for having the fuel tank on empty painfully close to the line. The four per cent gradient to the finish ensured that he would not be able to battle his way through the pain barrier.
Sitting on the edge of the pavement close to the finish and ignored by the huge crowds circling the finishing gantry, Greipel told Cyclingnews he had not seen the crashes, "because I was always close to the front with [teammates] Adam Hansen and Greg Henderson. He [Henderson] brought me into a good position with 400, 500 metres to go. I'd had a bit of trouble with one of my shoes but I saw the gap and went for it."
"But it was a bit too early, and slightly uphill."
Greipel added that the parcours "had been pretty tricky, but I stayed focused and stayed in the front. Of course I'm disappointed and sometimes in the sprints you make mistakes. If I had gone 50 metres later, maybe I wouldn’t have had that gap [to accelerate] any more."
"I think I made a good jump, but the others were on my wheel and in the last 50 metres I had no more power."
Greipel is determined to fight on for what would be his 122nd career win, thirteenth stage victory in a Grand Tour and third in a Giro d'Italia. "That's life" he concluded, and shrugged before reflecting that he had to accept these sorts of defeats in cycling: "Otherwise," he said with a wry grin "I'd go and play chess."
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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