Quatre Jours de Dunkerque

Greipel Takes First Victory in First Race Back

© Columbia - High Road

© Columbia - High Road

Back after a four-month absence of racing because of injuries, Columbia-Highroad’s Andre Greipel has won the last stage of the Four Days of Dunkirk.  After winning on the first day of the Tour Down Under, Greipel dislocated his shoulder in a bad crash on stage three and was unable to race for four months. But the German sprinter has bounced back in style, first by briefly holding the lead in the prestigious French race, then taking the final day’s stage in a bunch sprint, and finally winning the points competition overall.

“I’m really pleased to be back sprinting again, and surprised my condition is so good,” Greipel said later. “Getting the points jersey is a sign of consistency, and that my victory didn’t happen just by chance. We’d done nine laps of the final circuit, which was a help because it meant I knew the finish and even though there were cross-winds with about three kilometres to go, I got through that part fine. I thought I might be a little bit afraid in the final sprint because I might be thinking about the crash and the injury. Instead, I just went for it.”

Greipel added, “There was a corner with around 500 metres to go, and I made sure I was in third or fourth place. Then (teammate) Greg Henderson gave me a lead-out and I went for it 200 metres from the line, just like I usually do. I must have won by over a bike length.”

With two and a half weeks before his next race, the Tour of Bayern, Greipel still has to do more rehabilation for his shoulder injury.

“It doesn’t hurt but I can still feel it, I notice it’s there,” he explained. “If I didn’t do the rehab, then I’m sure it would get worse again. Other than that, I’ll be doing my normal training.”

Greipel’s Columbia-Highroad teammate Adam Hansen was in a day-long break that only ended when he was caught after puncturing with around 15 kilometres to go. Just like Greipel, for Hansen the Four Days of Dunkirk was his first race back after a major injury,  the Australian’s case, a broken collarbone.  “Adam was off the front the whole day, but the French teams chased him down,  then he punctured and was caught,” Greipel explained. “It didn’t work out for him, but we had had an easy day in the bunch thanks to him, and then afterwards we started setting things up for the sprint.”

“It’s amazing, the two guys who were injured and who made this race their first back were two of our strongest riders here,” added team manager Brian Holm. “I’m really impressed by how well they performed.”

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