WorldTour

André Greipel looks back on eight successful years at Lotto Soudal

03/10/2018

Since 2011, André Greipel is the one who brought most of the victories to Lotto Soudal. A team where he became one of the best sprinters in the world by winning no less than 95 UCI races in eight years. Maybe he can add one on Sunday at Paris-Tours, his last race in the Lotto Soudal shirt.

Together with Lotto Soudal, André Greipel looks back on a period, which is - like the one of every professional athlete - marked by ups and downs, but especially on a time with numerous highlights. That’s why André Greipel highlights his eight most beautiful and most memorable moments of his career with the team and talks about how he experienced them:


1. Stage 4 in Tour of Algarve, 19/02/2011 (Albufeira – Tavira)


“I believed it to be very important to start the season well with my new team and I hoped to obtain a victory as soon as possible. Back then, Philippe Gilbert was also a part of the team and had already won a stage, taking some pressure off on a collective level. In February, during the fourth stage of the Tour of the Algarve I was guided perfectly and brought in a good position by among others Roelandts and Sieberg. This perfect lead-out allowed me to beat Michal Matthews and to claim my first victory with the team.”

2. First stage victory in the Tour, 12/07/2011 (Aurillac–Carmaux) – Stage 10

 “A lot of people did not see me as a one of the best sprinters of the peloton, but once you can put a stage victory of the Tour de France on your record, that perception changes immediately. In this regard, that day in 2011 was a tipping point. For the outside world, this victory got me a place among the best sprinters, which made it an important victory for my career as well as for the team. It was a very tough stage with among others a nasty climb at twenty kilometres from the finish line. I had to pull out all the stops to follow but I succeeded and sprinted towards my first victory ever in the Tour.”

3. Three stage victories in the Tour de France 2012

4th: Abbeville - Rouen, 4/07/2012 
5th: Rouen - Saint-Quentin, 5/07/2017 
13th : Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux - Cap d'Agde, 14/07/2012 

“In 2012 I won three stages in the Tour de France: the fourth to Rouen, the fifth to Saint-Quentin and the thirteenth to Cap d’Agde. In the end, the fifth stage to Saint-Quentin was one of my two most beautiful victories of my career at Lotto Soudal. In the finale, I was held up by a big crash at three to four kilometres from the finish. Greg Hederson brought me from an almost lost position to the front of the peloton again where Sieberg and Roelandts were and still could prepare the sprint, enabling me to take another stage. In the Tour de France of 2012, I had the best lead-out ever: everyone was at his highest level and all riders who were part of the lead-out, Henderson, Roelandts, Sieberg, Bak, Hansen and myself were perfectly in tune.”

4. National title Germany, 23/06/2013

“A few days before the championship, I had some doubts about participating. Since the course was not far from my residence at that time, I did the recon, so I could see the route with my own eyes. After that, I decided to participate, more as a preparation for the Tour de France, which started a week later, than with the purpose to win the race. The race took place in appalling weather conditions: the rain made the race very tough. In the finale about fifteen to twenty cyclists were left to compete for the victory and the medals. Sibi got away and was 600 meters away from the German title. I was not going to close the gap of course and adopted a wait-and-see strategy. When he eventually got caught, I was able to win the sprint of the reduced group. It was a very special moment because my victory was quite unexpected. It was the first of three times I could wear the national jersey, which is something very special. If you ask any national champion which place the national title occupies on his record, every riders will put it somewhere on top.”

I went through my pain barrier, so I could ride that last sprint. It's probably the most beautiful victory so far.

5. Victory on the Champs-Elysées, 26/07/2015

“At a certain moment you dream about becoming a cyclist. Once you turn pro, you hope to participate in the Tour de France and when you participate in the Tour, you want to win a stage. If you have won a stage as a sprinter, you hope to once win on the Champs-Elysées, the World Championship for sprinters. In 2015, I started the sprint from a lost position, but still was able to seal the victory. This victory proved my perfect shape in that Tour since it was already my fourth victory in the three-week race. The final week I felt a lot of pain in my knee, which almost prevented me from getting to Paris. In other circumstances a lot of cyclists, and maybe me just as well, would have abandoned, but with already three stage victories, I did not want to quit. I went through my pain barrier, so I could ride that last sprint. I was also in great shape and that victory was not only a culmination of that great Tour, but also a fabulous moment in my career; maybe the most beautiful victory ever.”

6. Stage 2 in the Giro d’Italia, 6/05/2017 (Olbia – Tortolì) 

“I was not sure that I would ride the Giro, but eventually I was at the start in Sardinia. The first two stages were suited to sprinters and if the first stage is a stage in line, as a sprinter you know that you have a chance at the leader’s jersey. During my period with HTC, I already pulled it off in the Vuelta. And in the Giro of 2017, I saw my chance again. In the first stage Lukas Pöstlberger of Bora-Hansgrohe took everyone by surprise by riding off in the final phase, heading solo to the finish and taking the pink jersey. In the evening, we all were a bit down: I did not win the sprint of the peloton either, so I wouldn’t have taken the pink jersey anyway. It was a disappointment, but the second stage made up for it all. The stage towards Tortolì was not considered as a stage for sprinters because it was a bit hillier with also a nasty climb in the finale. Everybody expected a group of forty cyclists to ride towards the finish and that the sprinters would not play a role anymore. The strong headwinds kept the race relatively closed, increasing the chances to sprint. Thanks to great work of Jasper De Buyst, I was able to take part of that sprint and won. The stage victory was a huge relief and the pink jersey was a magnificent bonus. Wearing the leader’s jersey as a sprinter in a Grand Tour is very special!”

7. Stage 5 in the Four Days of Dunkirk, 12/05/2018 (Wormhout-Cassel)

“In Dunkirk I won two stages, but the fifth stage is a highlight in my career because, exceptionally, I did not win it in a bunch sprint. In the Tour of Luxemburg, I had already won in that way, so I was glad I could do it again a few years later. I rode solo to the win from afar: I escaped from a small group and rode alone in front for a few dozens of kilometres. Such a victory is unique for a sprinter and I am thus very proud of it.”

8. Stage 1 and stage 4 in the Tour of Britain, 2/09/2018 (Pembrey Country Park - Newport) & 5/09/2018 (Nuneaton - Royal Leamington Spa)
 
“Of course, I knew it were my last weeks and races with the team, but I did not really realize it could be my last two victories with Lotto Soudal. These two stage victories brought me joy in cycling and training again after a very hard period. In that manner I have the feeling I did well during the last weeks and had a pleasant and good Tour of Britain. That week in September, I was able to put a lot of stuff behind me, so I could start the final phase of the season and my period with Lotto Soudal in a positive manner!”

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