Lotto-Belisol’s André Greipel has won the opening stage of the Tour Méditerranéen, a 146.5km of flat, but windy, racing from Limoux to Gruissan. Already showing strong form this season after three stage wins at the Santos Tour Down Under, Greipel clinched yesterday’s victory in a bunch sprint finish that saw IAM Cycling’s Matteo Pelucchi forced to settle for second and Sojasun’s Maxime Daniel third.
Greipel commented on his opening day’s success, saying, ‘Today Olivier Kaisen and Gert Dockx deserve a special mention. They rode on the head of the peloton all day long… For most of the stage we had a backwind, so the cold wasn’t that bad. Because the time gaps weren’t passed on quite as well, it wasn’t easy to have an idea of the size of the gap. The preparation of the sprint was a bit difficult, because the signalization (sic) wasn’t clear, but luckily I could finish the team’s work.’
With considerably less luck than Greipel was Team Saxo-Tinkoff‘s Andy Schleck out of the race after abandoning Stage 1 with an infection of the respiratory tract – he will not continue with the remainder of the tour. After abandoning Schleck explained: ‘This morning I already had breathing problems. Instead of getting better, it just got worse during the race because of the cold and the wind. I didn’t want to abandon out of respect for the fans and the organisation, but also because I need this competition. After the Tour Down Under I felt I was in a good way and I was really looking forward to this race. I am now sicker than I was before. I need to let my body recover and I hope I can resume training as soon as possible. In theory my race program will not change.’
Andy Schleck is expected to resume competition in the Tour du Haut-Var (February 16-17).