André Greipel ready for his usual winning start in Santos Tour Down Under
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Monday, January 13, 2014

André Greipel ready for his usual winning start in Santos Tour Down Under

by Ben Atkins at 5:40 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour Down Under
Seventh straight start for German champion in a race that’s “very important” to Lotto-Belisol

andre greipelAndré Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) is ready to start his seventh straight Santos Tour Down Under on Sunday, January 19th, in search of his 15th stage victory. The German champion and the rest of his teammates have already been in Australia for almost a week, to acclimatise themselves to both the hot Australian summer, as well as the nine and a half hour time difference between Europe and South Australia.

“It has become a tradition to start my season in the Tour Down Under,” Greipel said. “This will be my seventh attendance in a row. I won the criterium in the run-up to the stage race three times and I took fourteen wins at the actual Tour Down Under. In 2008 and 2010 I won the GC as well, so I have good memories of it. The race has become a bit tougher each year.

“We left for Australia two weeks before the start, so we could train in the most optimal conditions,” he added. “It can be very hot here, but I don’t have any problems with the heat.”

Greipel will be supported by his usual lead out train, with the intention of scoring early season points over riders like compatriot Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) and Australians Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEdge) and Mark Renshaw (Omega Pharma-Quick Step).

“The Tour Down Under is very important to us. It’s the first race of the WorldTour and the faster you can win on that level, the better for the team and the riders,” explained Lotto-Belisol directeur sportif Herman Frison. “That takes off the pressure. That’s why we want to win a stage as soon as possible. After that we will aim for a second one and it would be totally amazing if we could also win a third stage like was the case last year. The race has become tougher than the past years, in theory I see three opportunities for a bunch sprint. It’s always nice to win the criterium in the run-up to the Tour Down Under, after all it’s the first confrontation between the sprinters, but that race isn’t a goal in itself.

“We have a strong team, with André Greipel as the leader,” Frison continued. “Jens Debusschere and Jürgen Roelandts will be the last men before him. First of all Olivier Kaisen, but also neo-pro Stig Broeckx, will be the guys for the work on the road. In the tougher stages they can grab their chance, just like Jürgen Roelandts. The GC isn’t a goal for us, but it wouldn’t be the first time that someone who doesn’t specifically aim for it ends up high.”

As well as the change in weather conditions - transferring from the cold European winter to temperatures in the 40s centigrade - and the time difference, the physical act of flying to Australia also had to be endured by the riders to reach the WorldTour opener.

“The trip to Down Under lasted almost two days,” said Frison. “The first days on Australian soil we had to adjust to the jetlag. Afterwards we trained, with rides up to five hours. It’s summer in Australia now and it’s always more pleasant to train and race in nice weather, although we had a mild winter in Belgium so far.”

Lotto-Belisol team for the Santos Tour Down Under
Stig Broeckx, Jens Debusschere, André Greipel, Adam Hansen, Olivier Kaisen, Jürgen Roelandts, Marcel Sieberg.


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