Hansen: Greipel has saved our team so many times

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.

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“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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Bora-Hansgrohe look ahead after ‘messy’ Tour Down Under opener

Despite losing Sam Bennett to a late mechanical and Peter Sagan‘s third place on stage 1 of the Santos Tour Down Under, there were no complaints for Bora-Hansgrohe sports director Patxi Vila after the Lyndoch finish. The result matched Bennett’s podium placing in the same location in last year’s WorldTour opener.

“It was a mess with a pretty hectic sprint. Slightly downhill, almost tailwind so it was fast. It is not the kind of sprint that suits Peter perfect. For Caleb [Ewan] and Greipel it was much better,” Vila said at the team bus after Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) won the stage.

On Sunday night, at the People’s Choice Classic, in Adelaide’s East End, it was Sagan getting the better of Greipel and Ewan while Elia Viviani was fourth. The same four were again leading to the line in Lyndoch with Sagan’s third place a pleasing result for Bora.

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“It was the real first sprint of the year. The criterium was one-hour racing. It was a warm and pretty hard stage in the end,” Vila said of the difference between the two days of racing. “We have to be happy. I would have signed for this first podium before coming here. It is good for him and I look forward to tomorrow. I am happy.”

With the first stage wrapped up, attention now turns to the hilly stage 2 finish in Stirling where Bora’s GC contender Jay McCarthy took the win in 2015. McCarthy returned to the race last year on Bora’s debut and supplanted Nathan Haas for the final podium spot on the last stage. In 2018, another overall podium and a stage win are the aims for the Queenslander.

With bonus seconds crucial in deciding the ochre jersey, Vila is well aware of how picking up the bonuses can quickly change the complexion of the race. Rather than lose sleep over the one-second bonus Haas picked up on stage 1, Vila is hoping McCarthy can replicate his Stirling stage win Wednesday afternoon and pick up the 10-second time bonus.

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Chris Froome nominated for Laureus World Sportsman of the Year

Chris Froome has been nominated for the prestigious 2018 Laureus World Sportsman of the Year award. The organisation collected the nominations through a ballot by members of international sports media. The full list of nominees was announced on Tuesday.

The winners, as voted for by members of the Laureus World Sports Academy, will be revealed in Monaco on February 27, according to the organisation’s website.

The Laureus World Sports Awards is an annual award ceremony honouring individuals and teams from the world of sports along with sporting achievements throughout the year. The awards support the work of Laureus Sport for Good, international projects that use the power of sport to end violence, discrimination and disadvantage, proving sports has the power to change the world.

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Froome is up for the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year for winning his fourth Tour de France title in 2017. He joins a list of other high-profile athletes nominated for the award including soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo, distance runner Mo Farah, Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton and French and US Open champion Rafael Nadal.

In September, Froome returned an adverse analytical finding (AAF) at the Vuelta a España for twice the permissible dose of the asthma medication salbutamol. The test took place September 7 following stage 18 of the Vuelta, a race which Froome went on to win overall. He was notified of the failed test after winning the bronze medal in the individual time trial at the UCI Road World Championships in Bergen on September 20.

He has denied exceeding the permitted dosage of his asthma drug. Salbutamol is a ‘specified’ substance on the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list and so Froome was not provisionally suspended. To avoid a suspension, Froome and his legal team must convince the anti-doping authorities that he did not exceed permitted dosage and that his sample was skewed by other factors such as dehydration.

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