In full tilt

On the eve of the Giro, we put a series of questions to a very candid André Greipel, the star German sprinter on the Lotto-Soudal team, who opened up to us about cycling and gave us some fascinating insights into his career and, of course, his relationship with his saddle.

 

What kind of shape are you in? What goals do you have for this Giro?

I will be doing the Giro following a short period of rest after the classics, so yes, I think I am in pretty good shape. Obviously, the flat-terrain stages are the main objective and the solid backing of our team is indispensable, as always. But I am aware that the stakes are high, so I would be happy to come away with at least a sprint.

 

Your 3 favourites for the final victory?

The three most obvious names: Quintana, Kruijswijk and clearly Nibali.

 

In your career, which of your more than 130 victories was the most exhilarating?

Without a shadow of a doubt, my first stage victory at the Tour de France. It was incredibly exciting. All racers fantasise about having an experience like that at least once in their career.
Your most bitter defeat?

Last season during the world championship at Doha in Qatar which was won with a sprint finish by Sagan.

A lost opportunity. Something I deeply regret.

 

What does coming in second mean to a cyclist?

It would be a good result for any sport, but I can assure you that losing a sprint by a few centimetres, or even millimetres, after 200 km of hard riding is really hard to swallow!

Luckily, especially in the stage races, there is usually another chance to make it up.

 

What is the most important characteristic for a sprinter?

More than strength, I think it is a gut feeling for the right moment to get in there and come into your own.

 

What is your top speed?

On a sprint 81 km/h. In descent I have reached 116 km/h.

 

The greatest champion you have ever met?

Leaving cycling to one side, my biggest idol is the Ukrainian boxer, Wladimir Klitschko who is the heavyweight champion of the three major sanctioning bodies.

 

What features should your ideal saddle have?

Every cyclist has his own opinion on the matter, but as far as I am concerned comfort is much more important than weight. Your shoes and your saddle are the only point of contact with the bike so a saddle needs to be totally comfortable both for races and training sessions. That way you can concentrate fully on performance.

 

Do you change saddle in the course of the year depending on the type of route or race?
I generally choose the saddle that feels good to me and I use the same one regardless of race or route. Except for time-trial stages where I use a specific type of saddle.

 

Which one are you using at the moment?

The Turbomatic Gel Flow by Selle Italia. I find it really comfortable both in terms of padding and the central cut-out which makes it more flexible at the tip.


How much free time does a professional cyclist have?

At the start of the season not much at all because the races are all close together; then, if you take part in stage races, you can be away from home for several weeks on end.

It isn’t until the second part of the season, usually after the Tour of France, that you manage to dedicate the odd weekend to your family.

 

When you aren’t cycling, how do you like to spend your time?

It is enjoyable to go running and stay fit and both things help to keep you on your toes, but when it comes to other sports, I like watching football.

 

What would you say to a youngster who wants to follow in your footsteps?

I would tell him to leave bicycles alone and go for football… Better be a football player than a cyclist… No, it’s not true. I’m joking. The main thing is to do what you feel is right.

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