Asked if it was within his nature as a star to work for someone else, Greipel showed a humility that belied his stature and entertained the idea that is uncommon among greats.
“I would have liked to do this, but I didn’t get asked so I took my own chances. It would have been a nice story to end up with Lotto Soudal and help out Caleb in the lead-out,” he said.
Greipel departed Lotto Soudal after eight career-defining seasons to this year join second-tier outfit Arkea-Sasmic, which has secured an invite to Paris-Roubaix and is awaiting on Grand Tours.
“I think I would have also had my own opportunities with Lotto but somehow in your career, you come to a point of asking yourself what you want to do in the future. For myself, I wanted to help a team. I could have stayed in the WorldTour, but I wanted a challenge,” he said.
“There is really a lot of potential with Arkea-Samsic so let’s see what the future brings. For the moment, I don’t see myself slowing down, the numbers are still the same, like in the younger days, so this is not the point. Maybe there is a lack of risk I take but that’s quite normal.”
The 36-year-old is currently competing at the Tour of Oman in which he hopes to stamp his authority on today’s sixth and final stage around Muscat, which Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) won last year.
Greipel punctured on the first stage that was tailormade to pure sprinters. He’s since consistently been part of the main peloton but despite that not figured in finales where rival teams have looked to make racing hard and shell sprinters en route to delivering their puncheurs to victory.
“I think it’s all the circumstances here -- the heat, the steep climbs. They’re riding quite fast uphill,” Greipel said. “The first day, OK, I had a puncture but all the other days I tried really hard to stay up there, to have the chance for the sprint but it didn’t work out.
“We are not here to ride in the bunch that’s for sure, I am not here to ride in the bunch. Hopefully the last day we can do better.”
Greipel has previously been a regular feature at the Santos Tour Down Under but made his Arkea-Samsic team debut at January’s Tropicale Amissa Bongo. He won a stage there but this week discounted the victory as he continues to familiarise himself with the team, build and mould a new lead-out.
“I feel quite comfortable in the team,” he said. “They are really motivated to help me and do the best possible, but we have not done so many races together yet. Amissa Bongo, I don’t count it as a race. It was an adventure let’s say.”
The 22-time Grand Tour stage winner has outlined ambitions for Paris-Roubaix, to improve on his seventh place at the 2017 edition, but outside that has an open outlook in terms of goals.
“The thing is there will be other races I will get to know. It’s going to be hard to always go for the sprint because somehow the races have fewer riders, and also when you go to the big races you have like Quick-Step, Lotto-Jumbo [Jumbo-Visma] and UAE, they have really good lead-out teams,” he said.
“I’m realistic enough that it’s really hard to match them and become better than them. But we have opportunities and hopefully, we can also win races. That’s what I’m trying to do, to win races wherever it’s possible.”