Greipel surprised himself at Worlds

Pre-race favorite Andre Greipel (Columbia-HTC)

Pre-race favorite Andre Greipel (Columbia-HTC) (Image credit: Sirotti)

No one was more surprised to see Andre Greipel in the escape group of the day at the World Championships than the Columbia fast man himself. Better known as a sprinter than an attacker, the German was part of a ten-rider group that got away on the first lap and stayed in front until only four laps to go, but Greipel did not feel in his place.

"My assignment was to be in the escape group," he noted on his personal website, "I obediently did that for more than 215 kilometres and continued to ask myself what was I actually doing there. Escape groups are, as you know, not really my speciality. And on such a difficult course, too."

The 27-year-old continued on for a lap after being caught, before exhaustion and cramps forced him out. He watched the finish of the race on site, and congratulated German teammate Fabian Wegmann, who finished eleventh. "In light of the strong competitors, we could go home satisifed."

Things didn't start off so good, though. He and Columbia-HTC teammate Marcel Sieberg arrived in Mendrisio on Thursday, and inspected the course. "We would have preferred to go directly back home, the course was that hard," he commented.

Greipel now has only two more races on his calendar. This coming Saturday, he hopes to have recovered enough to defend his title in the Münsterland Giro, and that will be followed by a farewell race for Ralf Grabsch on Sunday.

Greipel scored 19 wins this season, despite missing over three months in the spring due to shoulder surgery. These victories include four stage wins at the Vuelta a España, where he also won the points jersey and wore the leader's gold jersey for two stages.

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