It wasn't long ago when Mark Cavendish dismissed the Tour de France sprinting ability of André Greipel but with three stage wins to his name in 2012 and one already in the bag during the opening week of the 100th edition of Le Tour, the German Road Champion has more than proven his place among the world's fastest sprinters.
Greipel, Cavendish, Peter Sagan and Marcel Kittel enjoyed the first rest day with a win each but with four predicted sprint opportunities this week, it's anyone's guess who will enter the Alps with the upper hand.
Greipel has shown to be the master of the intermediate sprints but has not always put it together at the finish. However, when his Lotto Belisol lead-out train is in full flight, there are few squads as a whole that have the cohesion to get the better of them.
"I have the best train to take me to the sprint, so it's me who wins," Greipel told Lavenir with his first victory in this year's race coming after an impressive display of team strength into Montpellier.
It hasn't been an entirely smooth first week for the Lotto Belisol squad with Jurgen Van Den Broeck, the Belgian who finished fourth overall in 2012, pulling out from the race after crashing and injuring his knee and with no other GC riders in the now eight-man outfit, results will fall heavily on Greipel's shoulders.
"I am satisfied with the balance after a week however the loss of Van den Broeck has ruined our overall chances. He would have shone in the heat," he said.
Lotto Belisol team manager Marc Sergeant echoed his sprint captain's sentiment stating that it's difficult to be completely satisfied now that one of the team's greatest assets has left the race.
"The number one goal was to win a stage and that has already been reached but we cannot be satisfied. Especially since our second objective was to assist VDB [Van Den Broeck] onto the podium. That is now in the water," said Sergeant.
"André will still have three or four chances to use his speed. It would be great if he could exploit one or two of the coming sprint stages. It does not seem impossible to me because each sprint has delivered a different winner. But I dare say that the success of Greipel was by far the most impressive. He won into Montpellier because nobody could sprint faster than him, not because he was cleverly hidden on a wheel for as long as possible - as Sagan does, who is primarily concerned with achieving maximum points for his green jersey. We want is to win."
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