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ProTour leader skips Amstel for Georgia

André Greipel took the ProTour jersey in the Tour Down Under

André Greipel took the ProTour jersey in the Tour Down Under (Image credit: Mark Gunter)

Team High Road will be splitting the squad into two in order to send riders to the Ardennes Classics as well as the Tour de Georgia, which begins Monday, April 21. ProTour leader André Greipel will not be taking part in the Amstel Gold Race after missing out on Gent-Wevelgem because of illness. High Road's sprinter will be heading for the Tour of Georgia instead. "There were some confusing internet reports about André but he is back and in good shape," Rolf Aldag stated.

Aldag explained that despite wearing the ProTour jersey, Greipel isn't obligated to participate in the next round at the Amstel Gold Race. "UCI regulations allow that ProTour leaders don't have to show up for every ProTour race and we're taking advantage of that," he explained. "The only thing is that Amstel really doesn't suit André. He's a pure sprinter, not made for climbs like in Amstel."

Instead, the key rider for the Classic will be Luxemburger Kim Kirchen. Fresh from two stage wins in the Vualta al País Vasco, Kirchen has proven his worth for the title of team leader, noted manager Rolf Aldag of Kirchen.

"He's our man for Amstel." Aldag said. "Edvald Boasson Hagen, Morris [Possoni], Adam [Hansen] and Tony [Martin] have amply proved in this past month that they are up to the job of handling the breaks beforehand. But when it comes to the final, our real card to play will be Kim. He did a brilliant performance in the Tour of the Basque Country, and deserves some good support in Holland."

High Road for Amstel Gold: Michael Barry (Can); Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor); Gerald Ciolek (Ger); Adam Hansen (Aus); Kim Kirchen (Lux); Andreas Klier (Ger); Tony Martin (Ger); Morris Possoni (Ita).

For Georgia, director Allan Peiper will field a versatile squad which can handle the team time trial and mountain stages as well as contesting the furious bunch sprints which are expected on the first few stages. "The route structure will make for a complex and interesting race, tactically," Peiper explained. "If the climb came early on in the race and the team time trial second, it would be possible to try to ensure things stayed together on Brasstown and then aim to take control of the GC at the time trial. But that won't be possible. Having Brasstown so late on, effectively freezes everything up beforehand."

The team will have the speedy kiwi Greg Henderson and Greipel for the sprints, but will likely be called upon to control the race for its GC hopefuls. "I'm not sure how many other top sprinters will be there. So that probably means we will be working with other GC teams to keep things under control in the flatter stages, too, to try and ensure a bunch sprint where we can," said Peiper.

For the overall, High Road will be looking to Thomas Lövkvist and Kanstantsin Siutsou to make their mark on the Brasstown Bald stage. "They're both good climbers. Craig Lewis could well be a key player on that stage, too."

High Road for Tour of Georgia: John Devine (USA); Bert Grabsch (Ger); André Greipel (Ger); Greg Henderson (NZL); George Hincapie (USA); Craig Lewis (USA); Thomas Lövkvist (Swe); Kanstantsin Siutsou (Byl).