André Greipel will continue his illustrious career with Team Israel Start-Up Nation, signing a two-year extension that will keep him with the Israeli team until the end of the 2022 season, well beyond his 40th birthday.
“To tell you the truth, I was expecting that the team would offer me a one-year extension,” revealed the German, the most successful active rider in pro cycling, with 156 victories to date. “Of course, I was very flattered and pleased that the team management shows so much trust in me. It was an easy decision to accept the offer, and I am fully ready to prolong my career and help the team keep growing.”
An easy decision for André? It seems that it goes both ways. “André proved straight away that he is a rider with great character and exceptional leadership skills,” explained team manager Kjell Carlstrom. “We highly value his experience and what he brings to the team both in terms of his performance as well as guiding others. We look forward to having him on board for the rest of his career and ensuring that we can achieve a lot of success.”
This 2020-season started in a promising way for Greipel: He was shining in the Tour Down Under, with two top-five finishes and a 6th place in his first race with the team, showing that he still possesses the power that made him one of the greatest sprinters of all time. “Frankly, I felt great in the team from day one, both on and off the bike,” he said. But soon after returning from Australia, things took a turn for the worse. Andre fractured his shoulder during a mid-February training ride and had to undergo a surgery. Soon thereafter, the whole season came to a halt due to the coronavirus crisis.
But the impression that Andre left on the team was unmistakable and left little doubt on the team hierarchy that he is a great asset: “Andre has been such a positive force on our team since he joined, beginning in our December training camp in Israel. Both riding in the Holy Land and participating in our touristic off-the-bike activities in our amazing and historically fascinating country made an impression on André”, recalled ISN’s team owner Sylvan Adams. “André carries himself with grace and humility, despite his impressive palmares. Prior to the coronavirus shutdown, Andre had been a great mentor to our younger riders, in particular to our Israeli neo-pro sprinter Itamar Einhorn, who scored the first podium ever by an Israeli, at the Tour Colombia.”
When he joined Israel Start-Up Nation, Greipel was not sure if he would continue beyond this season. Still, the coronavirus-derailed season and his smooth transition into the Israeli team made it almost natural to prolong his career with ISN. “I did not get the opportunity to race the full season, so when the team offered me the chance to stay, I consulted my family, and that was it. I still love racing. The atmosphere in the team is great. We all share the responsibility to make this team successful and bring in the results. It may be young and new in the WorldTour, but it’s very professional from A to Z. And as for me personally, I am ready to go.”
He smiles when he is asked about his age. “Actually, when I train with my young colleagues, they are complaining that we are going fast, and actually, I had to hold myself not to go too fast as I want to be fresh and ready for the season restart.” Is he still confident that he can add wins to his victory tally? “Of course! I am still capable of producing results, but we all share that responsibility in this team”.
His love affair with the team was so evident that when we asked him if he would consider staying with the team in a pro job after retiring in blue and white, he never hesitated: “Sure, I would like that.”
“We are all eager to see his performance once the season restarts,” said Adams. “Welcome back, André. We are proud to have you on our team.”