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by Shane Stokes
January 17, 2018
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LYNDOCH, Australia (CT) – The 2017 season was Andre Greipel’s worst on the bike since 2007. The Lotto Soudal sprinter went winless at the Tour de France — his first Grand Tour without a stage win in 10 years — and ended the season with just five victories to his name. He’d lost confidence in his ability to sprint, and to win. Off the bike, his personal life was rocked by the death of his mother after a long illness.
But so far in 2018, in cycling at least, things appear to be heading in the right direction for the German powerhouse. Greipel sprinted to a impressive victory on Tuesday’s opening stage of the 2018 Santos Tour Down Under, earning himself the race’s first ochre leader’s jersey in the process.
Greipel overhauled Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott) and Elia Viviani (QuickStep Floors) in the closing metres of the sprint and held his position to take a record-extending 17th stage win at the season’s first WorldTour race. Ewan finished second while the fast-finishing Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) snuck past Viviani to complete the podium.
Greipel hopes that today’s victory will pave the way for a strong season ahead. “A win is a win so I’m happy that it turned out like that,” Greipel said. “To start the season with a win is always something good for the team, for myself.”
Greipel went nearly five months without a victory last season, between his stage win at the Giro d’Italia in early May and his win at the Omloop Eurometropol in late September. He struggled with his confidence during that time, telling the press in August that “I’ve completely lost my instinct on the bike.” He regrets those comments somewhat now, but is heartened that he’s been able to find his way back to the winner’s list.
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