There were doubts over Andre Greipel‘s finishing speeds, doubts over his Lotto Soudal lead-out, and doubts over whether time had finally caught up with him and his veteran sprint train. On stage 1 of the Santos Tour Down Under, however, any suspicions were put to bed with the perfect response from the German and his sprint posse.
At the finish, as Greipel collected the winner’s bouquet and the first leader’s jersey of the race, his tried-and-trusted teammates doused themselves with water and celebrated in the humble surroundings of the team van parked just beyond the finish.
This group of Adam Hansen (36), Lars Bak (38), Marcel Sieberg (35) have been racing together on the same teams since the mid 2000s – with the exception of Bak, who came on board in 2010 – and have grown together as a unit. For Hansen, who first raced with Greipel back in 2007, the German is the team linchpin, and has been since day one.
“Normally he has a lot of wins throughout the year,” Hansen said. “He has saved the team so many times, so for the team, Andre is really important. He gets success throughout the whole season, like you said he has success here, he gets something at the Giro. I think last year was the first year he didn’t win a stage at the Tour de France. He’s very consistent, so yeah a lot of the time he does save the team.”
While a number of established but younger lead-out teams struggled on Tuesday’s opening stage, Lotto Soudal timed their run to the line perfectly, while their main rivals – Caleb Ewan and Mitchelton-Scott – came undone in the frantic traffic in the final few hundred metres.
“Normally Andre goes and gets bottles on a sprint day and you know he’s up for it,” Hansen said
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