This is the unique thing about Andre Greipel: in the age of the selfie, where everything is “ME and I”, here comes an athlete, who despite his unbelievable winning resume and prowess, will do everything he can to resist the “me” and stick to the gentlemanly way of being.
Case in point: his second victory today in Ruta del Sol – his second in five days and the one that made everybody around him marvel at the magnificent resurrection of the 38-year-old legend – and there was just no chance to get him to talk about himself before hearing his extended praise of every one of his teammates.
It went like this, word for word:
Greipel: “Alex Cataford did an incredible job after his crash and made sure we chased down the breakaway. Then came a massive work by Hugo Hofstetter, who kept us in front, and Jenthe Biermans positioning us. I had a little problem in the last corner, but Daryl Impey kept the position and launched. I could not stick to Rick Zabel’s wheel because I was boxed in, so it could have gone even better… We have such great professionals in this team … The best.”
Finally came the words about himself: “I had a very good sprint.”
Actually, it was a SUPER sprint. He jumped perfectly, like out of a gun, with 300 hundred meters to go, and was so fast that his rivals could not react in time, nor with enough power to catch him. “Oldie but Goldie,” commented one of our fans.
One of the most beautiful scenes was seeing his teammates’ pure delight with his victory, and no more than from his old friend and comrade, Rick Zabel.
They met eight years ago when Rick was still a very young talent, but when Zabel moved to Cologne four years ago, the friendship flourished. They became a training duo. “He showed me around and helped me a lot with wise advice. He was really becoming a mentor to me,” recalled Rick.
At ISN, it was the first time that they could race together. “I think I am a good leadout, last man,” said Zabel. “And it’s great to have a sprinter on your wheel – that can win.”
But it took more than one season to see the real fruits of the mutual labor. Rick could notice it coming in the Tour of Turkey. “We improved all season long, and we were very close to winning with him there. But now, it all seems to come together. He is just fast, in great shape, and has a good team behind him.”
We came back to Greipel, asking him to explain it. We received a short and pointed explanation.
Greipel: “I got one answer: my passion for the sport and a dedicated team.”