Greipel fires back
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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Greipel fires back

by Jered Gruber at 6:18 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling

In an intriguing interview with Spanish website, Ciclismo a fondo, Andre Greipel takes an opportunity to voice his thoughts on his painful situation within the HTC-Columbia team. In terms of success, he could not ask for much more in the victory department: 10, after today's final stage triumph at the Tour of Turkey, but understandably, he wants more, and he wants bigger.

"Of course I'd like to be in all of the big races. Obviously, I want to ride the Tour de France, but it's impossible."

The obviously strained relationship between Greipel and Cavendish is no secret, and one that screams a very simple solution, one that Greipel is well aware of: "I think we'll have to part ways...I feel like I am losing time to win against the great sprinters and do the most important races. I've managed to win stages of the Vuelta, but as for the Tour, I still do not know. I've never had a chance to prove that I can do it. I need to do the Grand Tours to motivate me and achieve my great goals. I do not hate winning races in Australia and Turkey, but in July, I do not want to be on vacation. I want to be in France."

He's not unhappy with his vast total of wins so far this year, and certainly pleased to be healthy, especially considering the fact that he wasn't racing at this time last season. He missed a huge, three and a half month chunk of last season after colliding with a motorbike at the Tour Down Under in January.

"So far, I'm very happy with the season. I've had victories in the Tour Down Under, Algarve, Mallorca, and now Turkey, but most of all, I haven't crashed, which ismost important. The fall in the Tour of Turkey's seventh stage was the first for me, but had no serious consequences."

Greipel's pointed, fair words shed some light on one aspect that seemed a granted. It looked like the Cavendish/Greipel split for the Giro and California was pretty much an understood, but Greipel lets on that this was not at all in the cards: "My participation in the Giro was a last minute change, because Cavendish changed his program. Since October, it was confirmed and assured that he would race the Giro. He wanted to race California, but I had California on my calendar since before the season started."

If the Tour de France looks set to be a major conflicting point for Cavendish and Greipel, then the Vuelta surely appears to be the one that cannot be avoided. At this point, it's understood that the Vuelta forms the basis for all those interested in a big result at the World Championships. There's no getting around the fact - the World Champion more often than not comes from the Vuelta. With this year's World Championships in Australia looking like a possible sprinters' delight, both Cavendish and Greipel want to race the Vuelta.

"I have the advantage that last year I won a few stages [and the points jersey], and it is almost certain that I will be there."

Greipel is open and frank about his future with the team in 2011. He admits that his team plays a huge role in his success, but also realizes the same formation that has allowed him much success, could well be holding him back from even bigger success.

"The team makes a difference, and ours is the best for a sprinter, and that's what I thought until now, but the situation in which I am now in is not good, even with the best teammates. I have the best team. I only have to follow the wheel of my teammates. They leave me in perfect position, and I only have to do the rest."

Even with this powerful squad, existing on the same team as Mark Cavendish is a limited time deal at best: "Surely next year, if Cavendish does not leave for another team, I will."

It's hard to argue with the current tally between Greipel and Cavendish: 10-1. Cavendish's only win so far coming in a race that even he would describe as insignificant. Greipel, for his part, does not see himself in the same light as Cavendish:

"I am one of the best sprinters, but not the best. I have not yet been tested against the great riders in the Tour de France, and I cannot say I'm the best, because I don't know."

Greipel rightly sees that the two cannot wear the same jersey for much longer. Even now, Greipel says that he shares only a jersey in common with Cavendish, "nothing more than that." Cavendish's throne as the world's best sprinter is rightly his, but it's the fate of arguably the world's second best sprinter that has become tragically intertwined with his.

It will be interesting to see how Greipel fares in this year's difficult Giro, one that does not favor the sprinters. He will get a chance to have a go at some of the world's best, namely Oscar Freire and Alessandro Petacchi. If Greipel shows himself to be a match against Freire, Petacchi, and more, this simmering stew of angst could well hit a righteous boil as July draws near.


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