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Although he dismissed a question in Wednesday’s press conference which asked if it was true that he would not continue in the Tour of Turkey, Andre Greipel was indeed a non-starter on the fifth stage of the race.
The Lotto Soudal team confirmed to CyclingTips at the start this morning that the rider is travelling home from the race in order to ensure he is fully recovered before the Giro d’Italia.
Greipel subsequently put the following message on his twitter account.
— Andre Greipel (@AndreGreipel) April 30, 2015
Greipel sprinted to victory at the end of stage four, making the most of a tough finale prior to the sprint. Pure sprinters such as Mark Cavendish (Etixx-QuickStep) and Caleb Ewan (Orica GreenEdge) were dropped prior to the final gallop, but the more versatile Greipel rode solidly on the climbs and was then manoeuvred into position by his team prior to the final kilometre.
He was then quickest in the gallop to the line, netting what was his tenth career victory in the event.
Asked Wednesday what his goal was for the second half of the race, he didn’t indicate he was about to leave.
“We will see. We will take it day by day,” he said. “The Tour of Turkey became a bit harder now in the second part.”
A subsequent question about whether there would be enough time to complete the Tour of Turkey and be fully recovered for the Giro saw him indicate there should be.
“Well, we are racing the bike all year, riding the bike all year,” he answered. “I had a bit of time off after the Classics, so now it is time to build up.”
CyclingTips understands that plans to leave had already been made at that point. Greipel’s decision not to say he was withdrawing in the winner’s press conference may well have been taken at the race organiser’s request.
He will ride the Giro alongside team-mates Jurgen Van Den Broeck and Maxime Monfort. It means the team has more than one ambition for the race. Greipel will ride to help them but also take his chance on the flatter days.
“We have two guys for the GC and we have three guys for me for the sprints,” he explained.
“Of course we want to win a stage and then we will see what will be possible for the GC.”
While doing well in the Giro is a goal, the big German also wants to shine in the Tour de France. Some riders have said in the past that it is difficult to complete one and fully recover for the second; Greipel told CyclingTips that he doesn’t think this will be an issue.
“We are going to start the Giro and then we will see how I am,” he said. “Normally when you start a Grand Tour you always want to finish it. I think we will be okay [to recover in time afterwards].
He has ridden the race twice in the past, taking one stage each in 2008 and 2010. He has also amassed six Tour de France stage wins since 2011.