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Andre Greipel ‘relieved’ with first win for Omega

2011 Volta ao Algarve, stage 4
Greipel got on the 2011 scoreboard on Saturday

André Greipel is not one for emotional outbursts, but the usually stoic German sprinter was downright ecstatic with his season-debut victory at the Volta ao Algarve on Saturday.

The barrel-chested German searched out his new teammates on the Omega Pharma-Lotto team and hugged them one after another. For Greipel, having the support of his new teammates means the world to him.

“I wanted to thank them for the victory because it really meant a lot to me,” Greipel said. “The team has really put a lot of trust in me and I wanted to pay them back with victory. I have been close this season so it was nice to finally win.”

With his high-profile move from HTC-Highroad to the Belgian outfit, Greipel was under the gun to score an early season win.

At HTC, Greipel used to clean up at early season races, in large part because he was on the team’s secondary team and wasn’t heading to the major events of the year. So Greipel would go to such events as the Tour Down Under and the Tour of Turkey and rack up wins.

No longer in the shadow of Mark Cavendish, he’s targeting the most important races of the year for the first time in his career since he broke out three years ago.

2011 Volta ao Algarve, Andre Greipel
Greipel after his win Saturday

That means he’ll regularly be lining up against the likes of Cavendish, Tyler Farrar and the sport’s other elite sprinters. He’s confident that the victories will still be part of his future even against top-flight fields.

“I want to go to those big races. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to come to this team,” Greipel continued. “The team is supporting me and I hope to be able to race the Tour this year.”

Up next for Greipel are this weekend’s Belgian semi-classics at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne followed by Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo.

Saturday’s win will only bolster his confidence ahead of the season’s first major goals.

“It was a relief to win, though the team was never doubting me. I am still getting stronger going into the classics. The team did a great job for me and it was just a drag race at the end,” he said. “We are working together now as a team and we all know the wins will come. I know why I won this race, it was because of the team. I hope to give them many more.”

Omega Pharma-Lotto is certainly hoping so. The Belgian outfit was near the bottom of the win list among the elite teams with just 11 on the 2010 season. They’re betting they can at least double that with the arrival of Greipel.

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