Greipel (Lotto Soudal) won the 221km Olbia-Tortolì second stage of the 100th Giro d'Italia in a bunch sprint with Roberto Ferrari (UAE Team Emirates) and Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) taking second and third.
The win gave Greipel the lead of the Grand Tour for the first time in his career, and he'll be in the Maglia Rosa for the third and last day of the Giro’s visit to Sardinia.
“It was a childhood dream to wear a jersey like this,” he said. “I tried to get it last year and it didn’t work out. I tried yesterday again and it didn’t work out again, but today it went well, but at the beginning of the day, I didn’t believe it would be a bunch sprint finish.
“I expected more attacks, especially in the last climb. The bunch could have been into pieces up there but the headwind gave us, the sprinters, a chance to win.
“There was some more head wind towards the 2km mark, but my whole team was compact. Every rider played their part. [Lars] Bak, [Adam] Hansen, [Tomasz] Marczynski, [Moreno] Hofland, [Jasper] De Buyst.
“I was one position behind [Orica-Scott’s Luka] Mezgec, hoping that he’d keep pulling. I waited for the good moment to deliver the win for the team and for myself.
“I dedicate this victory to all the people who are helpful to me and particularly to my mother who is having difficult times at the moment but she’s a fighter. We’re all fighters.”
Greipel now leads Stage 1 winner Lukas Pöstlberger (BORA-hansgrohe), who exchanged Pink for the white jersey of the best young rider, and Australia's Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott) on the general classification.
Daniel Teklehaimanot (Dimension Data) will wear the blue jersey for the best climber as he gained decisive points on the final ascent after spending the day in the breakaway.
"Yesterday I tried hard in the break but I didn't get anything, today I won," Teklehaimanot said.
“I think I was a little fortunate as I was getting tired on the last climb and the peloton was coming. I just saved as much energy as I could and then gave it everything just before the top. The climb was important as it had the most points.
“It's unbelievable to have taken the jersey in the Tour de France and in this special 100th Giro d'Italia. It is incredible to be on the podium of these Grand Tours and I am very happy today.”
Starting in Olbia and finished in Tortolì, the second stage of the Giro d’Italia was difficult and favoured a breakaway as it travelled through the up-and-down Sardinian landscape.
A group of five riders, including Teklehaimanot, Lukasz Owsian (CCC), Ilia Koshevoy (Willier), Evgeny Shalunov (Gazprom) and Simone Andreetta (Bardiani) rode out to a five-minute lead but was kept under control by BORA-hansgrohe working for Lukas Pöstlberger.
The breakaway’s advantage was eroded on the last climb of the day and the peloton was all together as the race was set up for a sprint finish.