Greipel and Petacchi each eager for first bunch sprint of 2012 Tour
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Monday, July 02, 2012

Greipel and Petacchi each eager for first bunch sprint of 2012 Tour

by VeloNation Press at 9:07 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
“The first sprint in the Tour is always nervous”

Andre GreipelWinner of a stage in his debut Tour last year, Andre Greipel is in an ambitious frame of mind heading towards could well be the first bunch gallop of the Tour de France today. The big German has had a superb season thus far, clocking up thirteen victories including three in the recent Tour of Belgium and two in the Tour of Luxembourg.

Greipel is keen to go head to head with his rival and former team-mate Mark Cavendish, as well as yesterday’s victor Peter Sagan (Liquigas Cannondale). The Tour is the chance for him to try to show he is now the best sprinter in the world, although the other two will feel equally confident and equally keen to assert their dominance in this area of the sport.

“I’m looking forward to tomorrow,” he said after rolling in towards the back of the field yesterday. “From the beginning of the Tour I knew stage two would be one for the sprinting teams. We already showed we’re ready, even today; in the intermediate sprint we’ve tested [ourselves], not at 100 percent and at the end of the race, we showed how to function as a team.”

Getting things right tactically will be hugely important and in order to boost the chances of doing this, he said that some reconnaissance had been carried out. “We have already explored tomorrow’s race. Lot of open spaces, in which side winds can play a big part. It will be a hard battle to choose position, and speed will be very high during the preparation of the sprint. The finish is a bit uphill.”

Greipel will have the Lotto Belisol team at his disposal, with Greg Henderson, Jurgen Roelandts, Marcel Seiberg, Lars Bak and Adam Hansen charged with putting him in exactly the right place at the right time.

The big German is clear about the importance of that. He describes having a train as a necessity. “That’s the way to make a difference. It gives you the chance to save some strength and position,” he said. “The first sprint in the Tour is always nervous, there are about eight sprinters who can compete for victory”

One of those who he will likely be up against is the Italian Alessandro Petacchi, who has taken six stages thus far during his career, as well as the green jersey two years ago.

He had a quiet start to the year but showed good form in the Bayern Rundfahrt in May, netting three stages plus the points classification.

"Today there is no wind, the weather is dry, we'll have a good time,” he told LeTour.fr. “In the final stretch, I'll watch the teams Lotto-Belisol and Orica-GreenEdge. And, of course, I’ll try to stay ahead. I plan to hit it hard in the final.”

Ditto for Mark Cavendish, last year’s Maillot Vert. However he’s got fewer riders dedicated to him than in the past due to Sky Procycling’s bigger focus of taking the yellow jersey to Paris. Today will show if that chance will take the edge off his sprint. He’s already said that a four kilo weight loss might affect him in the flat sprints.

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