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First Endurance rider AndrĂ© Greipel (Columbia-HTC) sprinted to victory in the Paris-Bourges Classic on Thursday, netting Team Columbia-HTC’s 85th win of the 2009 season. Greipel was the fastest in the bunch sprint which decided the 193.3- kilometre event, and resulted in the sprinter’s 20th victory of 2009.

Following Bernhard Eisel’s victory in Paris-Bourges in 2008, Greipel’s triumph is Columbia-HTC’s second straight victory in the French Classic. “I never expected to get so many wins this season, particularly after a tough beginning to the year,” commented Greipel. “But today I won again, even though we had to work really hard to get it and there were attacks all the way through. My team-mates got me in the right position, and I did a very long sprint, from about 300 metres to go. Haedo almost got past me, but when he tried to overtake me he had to move out, and the wind made it harder for him. So I eventually beat him by about half a bike length.”

With an early move of around 20 riders getting away, Greipel said he hadn’t really expected a bunch sprint to materialise. “Fortunately we had two guys in there, [Morris] Possoni and [Vicente] Reynes, the break’s lead stayed at around two and a half minutes, and so we didn’t have to work so much. Then the best moment for me came when Bernie [Eisel] said to me, ‘Hey, relax, we’ll get the break back and we’ll get you to that sprint, too’.”

Greipel’s victory means the Columbia-HTC men’s team has now matched their 2008 total of 85 wins in one season.