One of the most successful, decorated sprinters of all time, André Greipel is soon to close out his illustrious career in Germany, October 3rd. Having been a pivotal part of the professional peloton for just shy of two decades, the time has come for the German sprint sensation to hang up his wheels.
Throughout his extensive career, he’s secured 158 professional wins, including twenty two Grand Tour victories, eleven of which were at the Tour de France. Commonly referred to as ‘the Gorilla’, André Greipel has been a real force to be reckoned with. Not only praised for his exceptional ability to win races and the sheer power he’s able to put out, but his lovable personality; well-liked by the peloton and idolised by fans worldwide.
Greipel has been a special part of the Factor family for several years now, since signing with Israel Start-Up Nation ahead of the 2020 season. Having suffered the implications of the pandemic and a mixed season last year – like many, he has risen to the occasion through 2021, consistently in the mix and at the pointy end, back where he belongs. Having competed at the sports pinnacle level for 19 seasons, the time has now come to call it a day and round out what has been a truly phenomenal career.
Although André’s turn of speed and warm character will be greatly missed in the peloton and out on the race turf, we wish him all the very best for what we are sure will be a successful step into the next phase of his life. At Factor, we are immensely proud to share that André will continue on with us as a global ambassador, and strongly look forward to continuing to work together over the coming years.
We recently spoke with André to hear his thoughts on retirement, reflect back on his stellar career, discuss his continued partnership with Factor Bikes and what’s next for the Gorilla…
Photography by Noa Arnon and Bettini Photo
ANDRÉ GREIPEL Q&A
How do you feel about retiring soon and what will your final race be?
First of all, I think I made the right decision to follow my feeling to retire and I’m glad that I made that decision earlier this year, so now I’ve really come to terms with it. Obviously, there’s always the right time for something and for me, now feels right. Cycling has been my life since I was ten, so I’ve always had a number on my back, but now it’s time to stop pinning a number on. I’m feeling really content about it, and not being just a rider in the bunch, but being able to finish on a high note, in good condition.
My final race of my career will be on the 3rd of October at the Sparkassen Münsterland Giro. It will be nice to finish in my home country, Germany. And if friends, family and supporters want to come to my last race, they can. For sure, there will a celebration of some sort later down the track. It’s not easy to plan through Corona times, but we’ll try and set something up. I’m quietly pretty pleased about finishing at home and not in Roubaix…
For the race, I don’t have ambitions. Of course, if there’ a sprint, I will try to put myself in the mix and have a go, but I don’t have that pressure anymore and just want to enjoy my final race as a professional.
Looking back at your extensive career – What are your fondest memories?
For me, it was always a childhood dream to become a professional bike rider. That’s why a lot of kids start cycling. They have their idols and they aspire to do the same, and so did I. So firstly, it was a privilege and a big accomplishment in itself to take that step to becoming a professional bike rider. Then of course, after that, my dreams and aspirations in the sport grew bigger. In the end, I am pretty grateful that I always made the right decisions because professional cycling is all about making decisions as well. Then having the background and support network behind me. My family, my trainers, and everyone who was involved in career shaping projects like Lotto-Soudal. To be part of something special like that, of course is something I’m really honoured to look back at and appreciate the support I’ve been able to have over the years. I won a lot of races, but I wouldn’t have been able to win them without the people and the team behind me. I could name a lot of victories that stand out to me, but of course winning at the Tour de France is something special. Not just taking part in it, but winning stages there….it’s an incredible feeling. A lot of riders don’t get to experience this. I’m really proud of everything I’ve achieved.
What won’t you miss about being a professional cyclist?
For sure, I’m not going to miss cold and rainy days! In racing, but also having to train in special conditions, especially for important training sessions. If you’re dedicated to perform, there’s no questioning that you have to push on and go out in the rain and in bad weather. So, I really won’t miss that side of things. Then of course I won’t be missing hard mountain stages and especially uphill starts. Not one bit…
How have your final few seasons been with Israel Start-Up Nation?
I don’t really count last year as a proper season with the pandemic at its worst. It was a tough year, not just mentally but also physically. It was strange to prepare for the season, where so many races were cancelled or postponed. But the team was always very supportive and positive, keeping the atmosphere and moral high.
This year, I am really happy that I have been able to perform on a decent level again, being a few times in the mix and also taking part in the Tour again. It’s a great setup here at Israel Start-Up Nation and it has been a really nice team to end my career with.
How did the ‘Gorilla’ nickname come about?
The Gorilla came about a long time ago now in Australia. Someone referred to me in the media as ‘the Gorilla’ and from then, it just seemed to stick. Luckily, I took it as a compliment and a fun way to be defined as a rider.
What are your thoughts on the OSTRO VAM?
When the OSTRO VAM came out, it was a big step forward on the performance side. The ONE was a really nice bike. Super for sprints, but at the same time, mostly suited to purely flat days, which often isn’t the case in World Tour cycling! The OSTRO VAM, for me, makes a huge difference. Not just in terms of aerodynamics, but in all performance measures. The innovations Factor were able to come up within a small period of time was impressive and great to see them take such a step forward. It really is the perfect bike.
To add, Factor really listened to us riders when changes had to be made. They were responsive and fast in new developments, creating the ideal bike to perform at the best level and on high load.
Looking ahead to the future – Can you discuss your decision to continue working with Factor Bikes and Black Inc as a global ambassador?
To make a decision like so, you need to of course be confident with the bikes and also with the direction the company is heading. And not just the bikes, but the whole picture – so everything involved, including Black Inc wheels. I’m 100 percent certain that Factor is always going to go in the right direction and will continue to deliver the best material. So I can see myself fitting in well to this side of the company, and over the coming years I can hopefully use my experience in the sport to help make improvements and advancements if and where necessary.
Do you have any further retirement plans?
Of course I would like to spend more weekends at home, not like the past years! But I think I also need some time to really find out what I want, besides cycling. I’m not going to put pressure on myself to make fast decisions.