Gallery: André Greipel, gentle giant of the sprints

by Iain Treloar

photography by The Grubers, Kramon, Cor Vos

In the rain of Münster, one of the great sprinters of his generation pedalled toward the finish line, sat up, and applauded. André Greipel had just completed his final race, after a distinguished 19-year career.

The fairytale would have been for a win, but it didn’t turn out that way. The German finished 10th in his retirement ride. “It’s finished now”, Greipel reflected at the finish line, “but I did my maximum. There was nothing more in the legs today, so I’m happy now that this day has finished. Now I’ll try to continue thinking positively for the future, and see what happens.”

Greipel might be looking to the future, but he has a long string of highlights to look back on in his past. Across his long innings as a pro cyclist, Greipel has ridden 19 Grand Tours, picking up 22 stage wins – 11 at the Tour, seven at the Giro, four at the Vuelta. He retires with 158 wins to his credit, most of them in sprints.

His career has seen him rise as part of a crop of legendary sprinters – among them Marcel Kittel and Mark Cavendish – and decline as younger, hungrier and more versatile rivals have taken their place.

Greipel broke through to the pro ranks with T-Mobile, which morphed into HTC-Columbia. In his four years at this squad, he picked up his first Grand Tour stage wins and two Tour Down Under titles.

The friendly German then left for greener pastures at the team best known as Lotto-Soudal, where he rode from 2011-2018 and collected some of his most memorable victories – including back-to-back stage wins on the Champs Elysées.

A short, unsuccessful one year stint at Arkea-Samsic followed, before Greipel ended his career with a two year contract at Israel Start-Up Nation.

Over almost two decades as a pro, the big German was feared in the sprints but beloved by the public. Successful fast-men are often wired a particular way – brash, sometimes abrasive – and Greipel was neither.

Cycling loses a faded sprinter, but the peloton loses a friend.

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