Marc Sergeant: We owe a great deal to Andre Greipel

What looked like the beginning of a bad break-up between André Greipel and Lotto Soudal during contract negotiations at the Tour de France has settled into mutually respectful goodbyes as the German sprinter announced that he had inked a two-year term with French Professional Continental team Fortuneo-Samsic.

The new deal puts an end to Greipel’s near eight-year relationship with Lotto Soudal, and its various incarnations as Omega Pharma Lotto and Lotto Belisol, since joining the outfit at the beginning of 2011.

“I think we can describe our many years of collaboration in a simple way: Omega Pharma Lotto, Lotto Belisol and Lotto Soudal successively owe a great deal to André Greipel, just as André owes a lot to us,” Lotto Soudal manager Marc Sergeant said in a statement on Thursday.

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“I’ve never had any similar bond with a rider like the one I had with André. A collaboration that was marked by dialogue, patience, trust, and, above all, respect. The many achievements are a logical result of this collaboration.”

Grepiel joined the team after five seasons with T-Mobile and HTC-HighRoad, where he became recognised as one of the most successful sprinters in the world. Since joining the Lotto team, he has secured 93 victories (of his 153 career wins). His palmares includes 11 stage wins at the Tour de France, seven at the Giro d’Italia, four at the Vuelta a España, among many other victories, in what has been an illustrious career that he intends to continue.

“Everyone in this team – each rider and staff member – knew André as a gentleman,” said Sergeant. “No emotional tweet directed to Sagan or Démare affects that perception. André was awed by each newcomer – young or famed. He gained respect for his personality, and of course for his achievements, not for empty words. He made a big evolution since 2011; at the beginning he was mainly a sprinter, but through the years he evolved into a real leader. He called us his family, and he meant it.

“The choice to end this chapter is obviously a tough one. As a team you are constantly reflecting upon the choices you have to make to secure the best possible future. In the final stage of the negotiations, it became clear that there would be no further collaboration possible. Nonetheless, the mutual respect continues, undoubtedly.”

Greipel says thank you and goodbye

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