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May 13, 2016 – Germany’s Andre Greipel overcame a late challenge by Australian Caleb Ewan to roar to an impressive sprint win to secure a hat-trick of victories for his Lotto team on Friday.
Greipel, the Lotto team rider known as the ‘Gorilla’ for his impressive physique, claimed his maiden win of the 99th edition on Wednesday. It ended compatriot and rival Marcel Kittel’s bid for a third stage win from this year’s race, and fortune smiled kindly on Greipel again late in the 211 km seventh stage when Etixx team sprinter Kittel suffered a puncture five kilometres from the finish.
A day after seeing teammate Tim Wellens claim his maiden stage from the race, Greipel made it three victories on the trot for his team to pull level 2-2 with compatriot and sprint rival Kittel.
To add to Kittel’s woes, Greipel has taken the points competition’s red jersey from him. “If we were playing football, we’d say we’ve scored a hat trick with three consecutive stage wins,” said Greipel. “We’re very happy.”
Lotto were instrumental in chasing down an early breakaway, the last remnants of which were reeled in inside the final 8km. After a series of big bends in the road slowed the bunch down, Orica-GreenEdge made a late charge for victory with Ewan pulling to the front.
But with the finish line barely 50 metres away, Greipel put in a last, decisive effort to finish ahead of Italians Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek) and Sacha Modolo (Lampre), with Ewan eventually fading to fourth place.
“It was tough all day with a strong breakaway that was hard to catch. My team did an amazing job,” said Greipel. “The chase had to be a serious one. Before the sprint, we hit the front early. I was happy to find my way to another win. The finish was nervous.”
Dutchman Tom Dumoulin of the Giant team retains the race leaders’ pink jersey a day after claiming a handful of seconds from his main rivals, such as 2013 champion Vincenzo Nibali and Spanish duo Mikel Landa and Alejandro Valverde.
Dane Jakob Fuglsang, of Nibali’s Astana team, is second overall at 26secs with Russian Ilnur Zakarin in third place for Katusha at 28. Valverde (Movistar) sits in sixth place at 41, with Nibali a further six seconds behind in eighth place overall. The eighth stage on Saturday is a rolling 186 km from Foligno to Arezzo that should keep the peloton on their toes.
It features a combination of flat and mountain roads, steep climbs and a 6.4 km section on dirt roads with gradients in the double figures.
After cresting the Alpe di Poti climb, the road drops quickly into Foce dello Scopetone and straight into the finish line.
Final kilometers of Stage 7
Results Stage 7:
1. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal 5:01:08
2. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
3. Sacha Modolo (Ita) Lampre – Merida
4. Caleb Ewan (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
5. Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
6. Matteo Trentin (Ita) Etixx – Quick-Step
7. Alexander Porsev (Rus) Team Katusha
8. Aleksei Tsatevich (Rus) Team Katusha
9. Nicola Ruffoni (Ita) Bardiani CSF
10. Elia Viviani (Ita) Team Sky
1. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin 29:23:23
2. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 0:00:26
3. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Team Katusha 0:00:28
4. Bob Jungels (Lux) Etixx – Quick-Step 0:00:35
5. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 0:00:38
6. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:41
7. Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre – Merida
8. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:47
9. Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Dimension Data 0:00:49
10. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale Pro Cycling 0:00:51