German riders take early bragging rights

Andre Greipel of Germany (green jersey) sprinting to win the 189.5km fifth stage of the Tour de France. German riders have claimed three out of five Tour stages so far.
Andre Greipel of Germany (green jersey) sprinting to win the 189.5km fifth stage of the Tour de France. German riders have claimed three out of five Tour stages so far.PHOTO: REUTERS

AMIENS • German cycling is riding the crest of a wave after Andre Greipel won Wednesday's fifth stage of the Tour de France.

A year after Germans won four of the first six stages before ending with seven in total, Greipel's second stage win this year made it three in five days.

It has made the decision by German broadcaster ARD to air the Tour for the first time in four years pay off. ARD had boycotted the race in 2011 in protest at the number of doping scandals and the poor reputation of the sport in cleaning up and battling the cheats.

But with Germans taking 21 stage wins since 2011, German cycling is booming again.

Said Greipel, who also won Sunday's second stage: "I'm really happy for the media attention we are getting now.

"It's something we can be proud of because, with our victories, we could get the attention of the Tour de France back to Germany."

Greipel's compatriot Tony Martin won Tuesday's stage and also took the Tour yellow jersey for the first time in his career.

Said Martin, 30, a three-time world time-trial champion: "The pressure was really high to show now what we are able to do, and I'm really happy we could do it so early in the Tour. Five stages, three wins and the yellow jersey, you can't expect a better start."

Whether the Germans can sustain the success remains to be seen, especially after Martin admitted he cannot keep the yellow jersey all the way to Paris.

"I'm realistic that when the big mountains come, I won't be able to stay with the best riders," he said.

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TOUR DE FRANCE

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 10, 2015, with the headline 'German riders take early bragging rights'. Print Edition | Subscribe