Fresh from stage victory at the Ster ZLM Toer, André Greipel (Lotto Belisol) approaches the Tour de France in fine form, but the German believes that there is just one outstanding favourite for the points classification this July – debutant Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale).
Greipel took his own bow in the Tour last year and came away with a stage win at Carmaux ahead of his former teammate and great rival Mark Cavendish. He is hoping to repeat the feat this time around but said the green jersey would not be a pre-race target.
“We want to win a stage and everything else is on top of that,” Greipel told Sporza. “After seven or ten days you can look at the points jersey, but for me I think there is just one guy who can win the points jersey and that’s Sagan.”
Sagan has been in terrifying condition in recent weeks, clocking up five stage victories at the Tour of California and adding another four at the Tour de Suisse, bringing his tally for the season to twelve wins.
Nonetheless, Greipel’s win on stage two of the Ster ZLM Toer brought his total for 2012 to thirteen and his confidence was boosted by beating Cavendish and the emerging Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) in the Netherlands. Greipel acknowledged that he was especially pleased with the way his Lotto Belisol lead-out train has been operating in the build-up to the Tour.
“I’m quite happy and also the team is in good shape,” he said. “We don’t need to hide, we’re always on the front for the sprints and it’s good preparation. If we do our train [at the Tour], we are hard to beat.”
While Jurgen Van Den Broeck and Jelle Vanendert will lead Lotto Belisol’s general classification challenge at the Tour, the Belgian team will also dedicate considerable resources to Greipel’s sprint train, with Jurgen Roelandts, Greg Henderson, Lars Bak, and Marcel Seiberg all expected to make the final selection. The team is set to be formally announced later in the week.