Despite his astonishing haul of 20 grand tour...

Greipel defends decision to abandon Giro

André Greipel defends his choice to abandon the Giro while leading the points classification, says he deserves more respect as sprinter.

BIBIONE, Italy (VN) — André Greipel defended his early exit at the Giro d’Italia, and hinted that he thinks he deserves more respect.

After winning three stages in the first half of the Giro, to bring his career haul to 20 grand tour stage victories, Lotto – Soudal’s German sprinter literally pedaled out of the post-stage press conference with his head held high.

“The journalists are always talking about Cavendish or Kittel, but I never hear my name,” Greipel said. “I am proud of what I and my team have been able to achieve, since I am always considered the underdog. I think 20 grand tour victories is not bad for an underdog.”

Those comments revealed another side to the sometimes stoic German exterior. Overshadowed earlier in his career by former Highroad teammate Mark Cavendish, and now out-shined by his compatriot rival Marcel Kittel, Greipel typically keeps his guard up.

Greipel also defended his decision to leave the Giro despite wearing the red points jersey. Some were criticizing the sprinter for the early exit and his lack of desire to defend the jersey to Torino.

“I have a lot of respect for the Giro, and I hope some day to come back to the Giro and win the points jersey,” Greipel said. “I have had a lot of injuries this season, and it was already before the Giro that we decided [to abandon] no matter what happens. Of course, it is not the way we wanted to leave, but I am a human being, not a machine. I have to make the decision for the upcoming goals, to prepare for them.”

And Greipel also shrugged off suggestions that he closed the door on Caleb Ewan (Orica – GreenEdge) in the final sprint Thursday. Ewan tried to come up between Greipel and the fences, and even had to stop pedaling at one point, but there was no relegation from the jury because Greipel had the line, and did not veer off his sprint.

“I had seen that there was a crosswind, and I wanted to sprint next to the fences, so when we came through on the second lap, I knew what line I wanted, and I was the first one through the corner,” Greipel said. “I have been a rider for a long time, I will not open up the fence.”

With that, Greipel mounted his bike, pedaled out of the press room. His next major goal, returning to the Tour de France, where he won four stages last year.