UN­STOP­PABLE ‘GO­RILLA’

Greipel takes pink jer­sey, ded­i­cates it to his sick mum

New Straits Times - - Sport -

TORTOLÌ (ITALY)

GER­MANY’S An­dre Greipel bounced back from an un­timely punc­ture to power his way to a stage two vic­tory on the 100th Giro d’Italia on Satur­day that gave him pos­ses­sion of the leader’s pink jer­sey.

Greipel, known as the ‘Go­rilla’, was un­stop­pable in a thrilling bunch sprint that al­lowed the Ger­man na­tional cham­pion to take the ‘maglia rosa’ from overnight leader Lukas Postl­berger (Bora).

Ital­ian Roberto Fer­rari (UAE) fin­ished sec­ond with Bel­gian Jasper Stuyven (Trek) in third fol­low­ing a fi­nal dash that saw Aus­tralian Caleb Ewan lose a golden chance for just his sec­ond Grand Tour stage suc­cess.

Ewan, who won a stage in the 2015 Tour of Spain, was firmly in con­tention to chal­lenge Lotto rider Greipel in­side the fi­nal 500 me­tres only for his left foot to dis­lodge from his cleat dur­ing a tus­sle with Colombian Fer­nando Gaviria.

As Ewan banged his han­dle­bars in frus­tra­tion — a day af­ter los­ing out on the chance to take the pink jer­sey in Ol­bia — Greipel pow­ered ahead of Fer­rari to claim his sev­enth over­all stage suc­cess in the Giro.

Greipel now has 22 vic­to­ries from Grand Tours in­clud­ing 11 from the Tour de France and four from the Tour of Spain.

He quickly ded­i­cated the win to the team that tried to pro­tect him through­out, and to his mother, who is strug­gling with sick­ness.

“It wasn’t an easy day with the head wind,” he said. “It made a six hours race but it also played in our favour. Oth­er­wise there would have been some at­tacks.

“I’m re­ally proud to win at the Giro again. I’m glad to win for my team­mates who worked for me since yes­ter­day. This stage win and the pink jer­sey are for them and also for my mother.”

With­out spec­i­fy­ing, Greipel added: “My mother’s in dif­fi­cult times at the mo­ment. She’s a fighter, my whole fam­ily are fight­ers and my team are as well.”

With only five sprint stages re­main­ing, Greipel is ex­pected to head for home well be­fore the race ends in Mi­lan on May 28 fol­low­ing a chal­leng­ing third week that should see Colombian Nairo Quin­tana chal­lenge Italy’s de­fend­ing cham­pion Vin­cenzo Nibali for the over­all win.

Postl­berger, in only his sec­ond sea­son as a pro­fes­sional, was the shock win­ner on stage one but the Aus­trian was al­ways go­ing to strug­gle to keep the pink jer­sey within his Bora team.

With two cat­e­gorised climbs in an un­du­lat­ing 221 km stage to ne­go­ti­ate, an early break­away was al­lowed to pull clear of the pelo­ton and by the end of the day it paid div­i­dends for Daniel Tek­le­haim­manot, of Di­men­sion Data.

The Eritrean, who in 2015 be­came the first rider from an African team to wear the polka dot jer­sey at the Tour de France, also has de­signs on the King of the Moun­tain jer­sey here and did enough to take pos­ses­sion early in this race.

When he claimed the 15 points on of­fer at the sum­mit of Genna Si­lana, the sec­ond of the two climbs, the chas­ing pelo­ton took over on a long, wind­ing de­scent that saw a few, fu­tile at­tacks fail to make an im­pact.

Yes­ter­day’s third stage is a 148 km ride from Tor­toli to Cagliari and the last on Sar­dinia be­fore to­day’s rest day, and then two stages on Nibali’s na­tive is­land of Si­cily.

“I think it will be quite a dif­fer­ent stage as I think they have fore­cast 40 km/h winds, it could be a short, fast, in­tense day,” Britain’s Geraint Thomas said. AFP

My mother’s in dif­fi­cult times at the mo­ment. She’s a fighter, my whole fam­ily are fight­ers and my team are as well.

AN­DRE GREIPEL

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