André GREIPEL reflecting on his first ISN victory:
“It’s always been my passion to ride my bike”
“I kept believing in it”
Rick Zabel : ” I always told him he is still fast enough to win”
Carlström: “A re-confirmation of the athlete and champion that André is”
When a top rider doesn’t win anything for over two years, he might start to question himself or fall into despair. Not André Greipel. The pragmatic German never lost faith, and he never lost his passion.
“The last two years weren’t the easiest of my career,” he admitted. “But in that time I still enjoyed riding my bike. It has always ben my passion to ride my bike.”
“I really enjoy riding my bike,” the sprinter said. “It’s fun for me. Racing is just something I really like to do.”
He rode for Arkéa-Samsic for less than a full season in 2019, with both sides agreeing to terminate his contract early. After one early win that year, “I didn’t win any more, but there were reasons, health-wise and team-wise, let’s say.”
A shoulder injury in February last year put him out of action for three months, but shortly thereafter the Covid pandemic shut everything down. “It made the racing calendar totally different. But I kept believing in it and I finally won a bike race again.”
His family – wife and two daughters – “of course played a big part” in helping him through those times.
The thought of ending his career was never seriously considered. “When you are not reaching your goals any more, you can always quit. But that’s not the way I want to end my career. I always try to fulfill my goals and so I’m happy that I could finally win again.”
The shortened 2020 season my not have brought much joy, but this season he showed he had kicked it up a notch, finishing in the top six in every sprint stage at the recent Tour of Turkey. One of the differences this year and this team, “This year I had the support of the team,” he notes.
He returns that support full-heartedly. “Yesterday we had a mix of Conti riders (from the Israel Cycling Academy development team) and WorldTour riders”. He praised each by name in describing how they all contributed to his win today.
“All of the Conti riders stepped up a bit today and they were really dedicated. They really wanted to do well and they did really well. It was really nice the way they performed.”
And in the end “I could finish it off, which made me really happy.”
“Everybody was dedicated to do well and yeah, we found each other really well in the final. Everybody played his part in this victory today,” he repeated.
“I’m really happy that I stand on the first step again with this win, but everybody was involved today. I’m super proud of the team.”
André “came with the perfect motivation and did it!” said happy team manager Kjell Carlström.
“He has kept on working, both with the leadout train as well as with himself. It’s great to see a champion like him not giving up and coming back on the top step of the podium!”
“For us as a team it’s a re-confirmation of the athlete and champion that André is. Of course we hope for many more victories to come still and I don’t see why he wouldn’t succeed again, hopefully even soon.”
Team owner Sylvan Adams said, “I’m very happy to see André return to the top step of the podium, his first win in a couple of years, and first since joining ISN. André is the winningest rider in the professional ranks, taking win number 167 in Mallorca. Hoping to see André continue his winning ways through the rest of this young season. Yalla, André!”
And it shows you how much he means to others when teammate, training partner and good friend Rick Zabel says “I am just as happy that he won as I would be for myself to win.”
“It was a major goal this year for me to lead him out to a win, so I am happy we reached this goal,” Rick said. “I always told him that he’s still fast enough to win and then he showed that to everybody today. It’s a big relief.”
Zak Dempster, who usually works with the Israel Cycling Academy development team, directed the team in the Mallorca Challenge. “It was awesome. Obviously it has been a while since André won so it was very important step for him to show that he can still do it.”
Zak praised the whole team, especially the “kids” in the race, but of course André has to finish it off. He’s the one who has to get to the line first, and today he did it, like he’s done so many times before. This win was a very important one.”
Andre Greipel Career ID card :
Andre’s 157 career wins include an astonishing 11 Tour de France stage wins, 7 Giro d’Italia stage wins, and 4 stages at the Vuelta a España. He has also won the Tour Down Under twice and the German national road title three times. And did we mention the 18 stage wins at the TDU?
A year ago he told Procycling magazine his Top Ten wins. We image he would add this win to that list. Some of his highlights:
1) his first ever professional win at the Tour of Denmark, 2005.
2) his first WorldTour win, at – where else – the Tour Down Under in 2008.
3) his first GC win. Again at, of course, the TDU in 2010.
4) his first Tour de France stage win, in 2011.
5) And of course, the ultimate goal of every sprinter – winning on the Champs-Élysées at the 2015 Tour de France.