Coming off a week Tom Boonen would be proud of, Andre Greipel has to feel awfully good. Yes, the Tour Down Under is a winter race, and even some of the Australians (McEwen, O'Grady) would be loathe to peak for anything in January. But it's still elite Cycling, and at least a handful of guys came to Adelaide to win. Greipel mopped the floor with them, day after day, winning the prologue, stages 2, 4, 5 and 6, the overall and the points title. The 25-year-old High Road sprinter notched his first wins outside of Germany as a pro, apart from a single stage of the DanmarkRundt in 2005. His one-week haul exceeds his win totals and point totals of the last two years combined. Probably his prize money too. And to top it off, he now leads the Pro Tour, which means he won't have to dress like a club rider again until after the Tour of Flanders at the earliest. Say what you want about the level of competition, but Andre Greipel just reached a new personal level as a cyclist.
I know next to nothing about Greipel. Apparently he's from Rostock, hometown of Jan Ullrich, but you can't blame Greipel for that. I had him on my VDS squad last year because he was minimum wage and he'd been tipped by one of the big mags as a future hopeful. He did little last season, but at age 24 he was either learning or drowning in the usual flood of talent that's gone through the T-Mob over the last couple years. Whatever he was up to, it's now working. Also, apparently his new nickname is the Gorilla. That alone will get him renewed on my VDS team.
Anyway, whether this is his brief moment or the start of something good, all I can say is congrats dude. That was one hell of a week; a great start to the season and a reminder of how Cycling is so full of great stories.
One sidebar from the TdU: there's a rather emotional follow-up on the Elia Rigotto-Matt Hayman head-butting episode in the CN Notes from Saturday. Apparently the incident occurred when Rigotto himself lost his balance, for whatever reason. A tearful Rigotto sought out Hayman's teammate Graeme Brown to apologize and express regrets, and Hayman himself sounds convinced Rigotto meant him no harm. Decency reigns supreme in Adelaide.