After reconnoitring the Paris-Roubaix course with his teammates on Thursday, André Greipel says is ready to go on the attack this weekend. The Lotto-Soudal rider, who will once again be playing a supporting role for his teammate Jürgen Roelandts, says that the team need to grab the bull by the horns this weekend in their search of success.
"We have to see how the race develops. You have to look around and see how many guys are left after Arenberg. Hopefully we are still with six or seven riders from our team. From there you can just try to ride aggressively and don't wait for others to attack, we can do it," he told Cyclingnews at the team's hotel near Bruges.
Greipel was one of the most aggressive riders during Sunday's Tour of Flanders, attacking multiple times in the final 50 kilometres. The plan was to ensure that he was there at the front of the race when his teammates needed him most. Unfortunately the team were unable to put someone in the top three but Greipel was pleased that everything else played out as it should. "I think from our side, our team didn't do any mistakes, I think there were other teams that made more mistakes than us," he said.
However, four days later, the German is paying for his huge efforts. He skipped Scheldeprijs, to the mirth of the organisers, and told Cyclingnews that he still didn't feel up to scratch during the recon.
"I don't know if it's from Flanders but the legs were not so good today. It means nothing it is only Thursday today," said Greipel. "I was just really tired. And today with how my legs are feeling, I think that it was the right decision to do. Of course it's not easy for the organisation of Scheldeprijs but I'm happy that the team could give me the opportunity to rest a little bit more and focus on Sunday."
A crash at last year's Gent-Wevelgem, which resulted in torn ligaments in his shoulder meant that Greipel was unable to ride last year's Paris-Roubaix. It was the first time he'd missed the race since he made his debut at the race in 2011. He scored his best result of 21st on that occasion and could be an outside contender for the team on Sunday, should anything go wrong. He has a love/hate relationship with the Hell of the North but believes that the team can make the podium if things go their way.
"I like the race a lot but you can go in the race and be like oh I love this race and after the second sector and you are dropped or you crash then you don't love it anymore," said Greipel. "I know if everything goes ok then we can be close to the front and Jürgen likes the race. I do like the race, Tiesj is also really on fire so we just have to see if we have the luck on our side."
Changing things up
After Paris-Roubaix, Greipel will enjoy a short break before he builds up to the Giro d'Italia in May. It is the first time since 2010 that the German sprinter will ride the Italian Grand Tour and only the second time in his career. He's taken a win on each occasion he's ridden the race and while they won't be taking a full-strength team he is determined to continue that trend.
"I will go to the Giro wanting to win a stage and everything else we will see," explained Greipel when asked if he would target the points competition too. "I think in the first 10 days there are like six opportunities for the sprints, and then until the 13th day then maybe there is another one. We're just going to try and get me somehow into the good position for the sprint but we will not be there with a lead-out train."
The Giro d'Italia is not the only change that Greipel has made for the 2015 season. For the first time since 2008, Greipel decided not to head to Australia and ride the Tour Down Under a race that he holds the record number of stage wins with 16. He waited until the Mallorca Challenge at the end of January, also skipping the Middle Eastern races in Qatar and Oman. The impact of the change of schedule means that he has less victories at this point in the year than he had last season but he is not worried.
"I feel quite good with the decision that we made in January," Greipel told Cyclingnews. "Let's say, for sure I could have had five victories now. I was three times second and sometimes a millimetre counts like last week (at Three days of De Panne). We have just other riders now who can also win races so it's not about me sprinting any more.
"It also goes on other shoulders with Jens Debusschere, Kris Boeckmans and Tony Gallopin we already have a lot of good riders to win races. I'm going to try and change my quantity of wins to quality of wins."
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