Tag Archives: André Greipel

André Greipel keeps his streak alive…Chris Froome wins his 3rd Tour de France

They call the final stage into Paris, and the charge up the Champs-Élysées, the sprinters World Championships, and rightly so. It’s the most spectacular bunch gallop of the lot and the one that every sprinter wants to win…and one of the most satisfying to win at that. Partly because of where it is and partly because of what race it is, but also because you’ve survived 21 stages, several mountain ranges and everything else that comes with a Tour de France to earn the right to partake in it.

It’s why someone like Mario Cippolini, regarded by many as one of the greatest sprinters of all time, never won here. He couldn’t make it through all twenty stages before hand to get the opportunity. Mark Cavendish won four stages this year, but he never made it across the Alps and so he didn’t get the chance either.

Cavendish, of course, has been here before however. He won on this wide cobbled boulevard four straight times between 2009 and 2012 and would surely have been the favourite this time had he made it. Instead it was a fourth straight German win, this time by André Greipel, who won it for the second straight year to go with the two won by Marcel Kittel in 2013 and 2014.

And the winning list here is a roll call of some of the sports greatest sprinters: Freddy Maertens (1981); Jean-Paul van Poppel (1988); Johan Museeuw (1990); Olaf Ludwig (1992); Djamolidine Abdoujaparov, finally in 1993 after his unforgettable crash in the 1991 sprint (and also a winner in 1995); Tom Steels (1998), Robbie Mcewen (1999 and 2002), Tom Boonen (2004), and of course Cavendish and his German pals over the past eight years. Cippolini being one of the few absentees.

There has of course been years in which the sprinters had their party spoiled. It’s almost sacrilege in today’s age to dare to stay away from the annual small group of attackers and hold the sprinters off, but sometimes it does happen, including for three straight years in the late 1970s when Alain Meslet, Gerrie Knetemann and Bernard Hinault all took victories. American Jeff Pierce did it in 1987, Eddy Seigneur in 1994 and Alexander Vinokourov in 2005, and you could say we’re due another, but with the advent of modern sprint trains and tactics and race radios, the likelihood grows smaller each year and it was never likely to happen today either.

The break, which went clear on the early laps of Pairs after the now traditional go-slow procession through the French countryside to the Champs-Élysées, was reeled in with plenty of time for the sprinters to position themselves for the dash out of the Place de la Concorde and up to the line. Alexander Kristoff looked good for a bit, but went too early; Peter Sagan came on strong, but went too late; and it was Greipel who timed it to perfection and kept his streak alive of winning a stage in every Grand Tour he’s taken part in (11 in total; 21 wins) since the 2008 Giro.

Further back, off the rear of the peloton, came Team Sky as a collective. Spread out across the width of the finishing straight, arms around one another, soaking in the moment and the enormity of their achievement, Chris Froome in yellow and the winner of the Tour de France for a third time.

All that was left was the pomp and ceremony: podium presentations for each of the jersey winners, the final podium for the top three in which Chris Froome was joined by Romain Bardet and Nairo Quintana, and then a kind and gracious speech by Froome.

And then it was all over for another year. Hard to believe really. Come and gone, just like that. I’ll let the dust settle and then come back with a review of it all.

Unofficial sprinters World Championships 2016:

1. André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) in 2h43’08”

2. Peter Sagan (Tinkoff)

3. Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) all s.t.

Final general classification:

1. Chris Froome (Sky) in 89h04’48”

2. Romain Bardet (AGR2 La Mondiale) @ 4’05”

3. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) @ 4’21”

4. Adam Yates (Orica-BikeExhange) @ 4’42”

5. Richie Porte (BMC) @ 5’17”

6. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) @ 6’16”

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So Greipel hasn’t abandoned after all…well, he has now

As of this morning, for reasons I don’t quite know, I was under the assumption that Andre Greipel had already abandoned the Giro. Which was surprising to me given the profile of today’s stage with not a single rise on the road. If ever there was a day designed for the fast men, then this was it. As a result of my assumption I was trying to think on who might win the days gallop now that Marcel Kittel and Greipel had gone home.

But he hadn’t, and no wonder. Imagine though my surprise when I did tune in with just two kilometres to go, with that Italian commentary again, and all I could hear was the name Greipel and all I could see was the Lotto-Soudal team moving up towards the front. The big man was still very much a part of this race and he was going for his third stage win of the race. There was never going to be any doubt.

Caleb Ewan made more of a fist of it than anyone else managed in Greipel’s previous two wins, but even he came up a few lengths short, though partly because he had to check his sprint when he decided to come over Greipel’s right shoulder and realised there was no room between the German and the barriers. Would Ewan have won had he gone the other way? We’ll never know, but now that Greipel is indeed bowing out of the race ahead of the terrain that will never suit him, to rest and recover for other targets over the summer, perhaps Ewan will get his chance on one of the few remaining flat stages.

There was no change in the overall.

Over in at the Tour of California, yesterday, Peter Sagan won yet again. No longer in contention to win the overall classification, Sagan is sweeping up all other stages beyond that of the queen stage that he lost big time on a few days ago. Stage 5 is underway as I write this, so we’ll see what it brings.

Greipel makes it three straight for Lotto-Soudal

Two days ago Andre Greipel made up for lost ground on sprint rival Marcel Kittel by winning his sprint by as many lengths as the impressive Kittel had in his two combined. Which was no mean feat given how dominant Kittel had been. Today, on the 211km stage seven from Sulmona to Foligno, Greipel won again and in doing so matched Kittel for race wins at this Giro and moved into the red jersey as points leader ahead of his fellow countryman, 119 to 106.

Greipel’s two sprint victories came without Kittel present however (the first had Kittel missing after being dropped on prior climbs, the second seen Kittel puncture with 5km to go), but his wins sandwiched the win of his team-mate Tim Wellens on stage 6 and thus made it three wins in-a-row for the likeable Lotto-Soudal team.

They may not lead the overall team competition (they’re only 16th, 14min 58sec behind Astana), but they now have Greipel in the points and Wellens in the King of the Mountains jerseys. Clearly the target for Lotto is stage wins in this Giro, and they’re getting it done. You get the impression there is more wins in Greipel and certainly Wellens and that still leaves names like Adam Hansen, Lars Bak, Jurgen Roelandts and Jelle Vanendert who can all win a Grand Tour stage.

No major changes overall though Ryder Hesjedal lost a handful of seconds yet again when he was caught in a late split that cost him 9sec. It also caught out Orica GreenEdge’s GC hopeful, Esteban Chaves as well as Michele Scarponi.

Greipel does a Kittel, and then some…

When Marcel Kittel won stages two and three of this years Giro he did so by what appeared to be a combined length of about eight lengths. His chief rival and fellow countryman, Andre Greipel was well beaten, finishing 15th and 4th respectively. Until today that was, when the next sprint stage presented itself, though not before enough short little climbs eliminated Kittel from contention, and Greipel, duly delivered with a sprint victory that ought to have come with a time gap as he put a fair ten lengths between himself and Arnaud Demare in second.

If there were a sprint competition for wins by lengths then I’d reckon Greipel on this sprint alone had taken the lead back from Kittel.

It was a statement of intent by the Lotto-Soudal rider who must have been feeling a little pressure to show his own turn of speed, and a reminder of his abilities to navigate the smaller hills that catch some of the other pure sprinters out. It now means he has won at least one stage from every Grand Tour he has entered dating back to the 2008 Giro. A fantastic level of consistency.

While I’m OK with bunch sprints being limited to a handful of stages in Grand Tours, I do hope we get at least another opportunity for one and with it a proper elbow-to-elbow battle between the two big Germans. Kittel appears to have the edge when he is there, but Greipel will have felt a surge of confidence with that performance today.

Greipel makes it four while Froome makes his win official

Stage 21: Sèvres > Paris Champs-Elysees, 109.5km

The final stage into Paris is always a procession, at least until they get to the Champs-Elysees, though this year they took that procession to a new level, rolling along at speeds that your granny could muster as the driving rain combined with tired legs from the 20 devastating stages that had come before left nobody with the desire to move quickly until they had to. And then, when push came to shove, André Greipel moved quickest of them all, again.

That driving rain was so bad that race officials decided the times towards the general classification would be taken on the first trip over the finishing line, leaving the circuit racing up and down the Champs-Elysees to those wanting to risk their necks and fight for the stage win in what is the unofficial sprinters world championship. As it turns out they all raced those laps anyway, despite the fear for the absurd sight of everyone, baring a handful of sprinters teams, sliding off the back and touring their way around Paris until they had concluded their quota of laps.

And everyone made it to the first passage over that finishing line before the pace began to hot up, though Chris Froome of all people was the one who almost ran into disaster. During the usual rigmarole of pictures of Froome holding champagne, pictures of the jersey winners riding at the front together, and pictures of the winners team riding arm in arm, Froome was almost brought down when team-mate Richie Porte, who had proven so valuable to him the day before, almost lost his balance when attempting to ride with no hands in order to pose for that team picture.

Disaster averted and onto the Champs-Elysees, Froome was safe and only a couple of mechanical issues — one of which seen a bag trapped in his real wheel forcing a bike change — got in his way, though the official time had already been accounted for. Another moment of madness came on the final lap when a protester took to the route and stood with his arms out stretched as the on rushing peloton swept around him. Miraculously nobody hit him and everyone got home safely.

So it was over to the sprinters to decide the stage, once a couple of forlorn hopes had made their attempt to spoil the fun only to be reeled in, and who else should take the win but Greipel? Far and away the best sprinter in this years Tour, taking his fourth stage win. He beat Brian Coquard into second and the strong Alexander Kristoff into third. Peter Sagan never got close enough and an ill Mark Cavendish was way back in sixth on what used to be his stage.

A minute or so behind, though unofficially, came the Sky team, once again arm in arm but this time with a more secure looking Richie Porte. And in the middle…Chris Froome. In his Yellow jersey and as champion for the second time; the first British man to win the Tour on two occasions after Sir Bradley Wiggins had become the first Brit to win it just three years ago.

So after a savage 3,360.3km raced at brutal 39.64km/h in which just 16 men finished within an hour of the race winner Froome, all that was left was the pomp and ceremony on the podiums and then the after party. As he stood on the top step with the Champs-Elysees sweeping up to the Arc de Triomphe behind him, Froome gave a short but poignant speech. “This is a beautiful country and it hosts the biggest annual sporting event on the planet. To win the 100th edition is an honour”, he said after thanking numerous people from his team-mates to his family. “This is one yellow jersey that will stand the test of time.” It was all he needed to say and it highlighted once more the class of the man to show such grace given what he had gone through on the road to winning this 2015 Tour de France.

This is a beautiful country and it hosts the biggest annual sporting event on the planet. To win the 100th edition is an honour… this is one yellow jersey that will stand the test of time,” he said from the podium.

Result: Final classement:
1. Greipel (TLS) in 2h 49′ 41″

2. Coquard (EUC)

3. Kristoff (KAT)

4. Boasson Hagen (MTN)

5. Demare (FDJ)

6. Cavendish (EQS) all s.t.

1. Froome (SKY) in 84h 46′ 14″

2. Quintana (MOV) + 1′ 12″

3. Valverde (MOV) + 5′ 25″

4. Nibali (AST) + 8′ 36″

5. Contador (TCS) + 9′ 48″

6. Gesink (TLJ) + 10′ 47″

Greipel wins his third stage…Sagan gets another top 5

Stage 15: Mende > Valence, 183km


It was a somewhat uneventful day in the grand scheme of stages on this years Tour. A massive break of 27 riders eventually emerged after the côte de Badaroux — on which Mark Cavendish lost contact with the leading peloton for good, later put down as due to stomach issues — and while it contained several big names, including yet again Peter Sagan, and was later whittled down to just 9 men, it was reeled in a long way before the finish setting up a rare day for the sprinters.

A rare day for the sprinters is more and more becoming a day for André Greipel and so it proved to be. Despite a late effort with 3.5km to go by Zdenek Stybar that seen him caught under the flame rouge, the German was too fast for the rest and won his third stage of this years Tour, reducing the deficit in the Green jersey contest from 61 points to 44. In getting into the days break Sagan had actually won yet another intermediate sprint, but that work was cancelled out when Greipel took maximum points on the line despite Sagan finishing fourth. A mighty effort by Sagan given he was in that break.

Sagan has been in staggering form in this Tour finishing in the top five on 10 of 15 stages including the team-time-trial. If you take away the individual time-trial and three Pyrenean stages, he’s finished in the top five in all but one stage – the climb up the Mur de Huy. That’s why he’s in the Green jersey of course, though Greipel won’t give it up without a fight. Given the kind of terrain coming up tomorrow and in the closing week, it’s going to be extremely hard however for Greipel to overhaul Sagan and the Slovak will be looking to seal it all up before they reach the streets of Paris this time next week.

Result: Classement:
1. Greipel (TLS) in 3h 56′ 35″

2. Degenklob (TGA)

3. Kristoff (KAT)

4. Sagan (TCS)

5. Boasson Hagen (MTN)

6. Navardauskas (TCG) all s.t.

1. Froome (SKY) in 59h 58′ 54″

2. Quintana (MOV) +3′ 10″

3. Van Garderen (BMC) +3′ 32″

4. Valverde (MOV) +4′ 02″

5. Contador (TSC) +4′ 23″

6. Thomas (SKY) +4′ 54″

Cav doesn’t win…what’s wrong with Cav?

Stage 5: Arras > Amiens, 189.5km

Despite the four days that have come before, some of the riders called today’s stage the most stressful yet. Maybe so, but it was also the first one so far in which the scenic views from the helicopter have been more interesting that what’s been going on in the race. It was the kind of first week stage that we’ve been used to in the past: the favourites staying out of trouble and the sprinters taking the glory.

Today’s was especially dull however, sprint aside. Only one man when out on the attack and even he was reeled in with 100 kilometres still to race. There was a split in the bunch sometime after, but it only caught out those with no interest in the days stage and looking for a virtual rest-day anyway, and so a reduced peloton ambled into Amiens for the gallop.

Mark Cavendish was the predictable favourite but once again he got his timing wrong and went too early into a headwind only to have André Greipel and then Peter Sagan come around him. Greipel timed it perfectly and took his second stage win of this years Tour, and its as well because five more metres and Sagan would have had him. If Canvendish’s timing to start his sprint was poor one way, the fast charging Sagan’s was a shade off the other.

The downside of winning 25 stages in the Tour de France is that when you stop winning, the questions come thick and fast and the first of those questions is ‘what is wrong with Cav?’

Something is clearly up.

Maybe it is just that his timing is off, maybe it’s confidence, maybe it’s the train, maybe it’s communication (you’ll be sprinting into a headwind today Cav!), or maybe it is the legs. He’s 30 now, and while that’s still two years younger than Greipel, Cavendish has always relied on pure speed which leaves you before the raw power that Greipel relies on. Who knows, though I reckon it’s a little bit of each and to win sprints at that level you need the majority of those elements to be working well.

I hope I’m wrong because I’d desperately like to see Cavendish win three more stages and take to the podium with podium chaperon Bernard Hinault alongside him, whos record he would have matched. Given the lack of stages in this Tour designed for the pure sprinters it might already be too late for that to happen this year.

Result: Classement:
1. Greipel (LTS) in 4h39′

2. Sagan (TCS)

3. Cavendish (EQS)

4. Kristoff (NOR)

5. Boasson Hagen (MTN)

6. Degenklob (TGA) all s.t.

1. Martin (EQS) in 17h19’26”

2. Froome (SKY) +12″

3. Van Garderen (BMC) +25″

4. Sagan (TCS) +33″

5. Gallopin (LTS) +38″

6. Van Avermaet (BMC) +40″