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"Peter Sagan, of course, is an outstanding athlete but he also still needs to prove in the Classics season that he can win the big races."

Photo: Sirotti




12.01.2016 @ 06:00 Posted by Renaud Breban

John Degenkolb is really motivated for the new season. The sprinter who was the GermanRider of the Year, is aware that for the rest of his career, external expectations have been irrevocably recalibrated. Indeed, a spring campaign without a Monument victory (Milan-San Remo, Tour of Flanders or Paris-Roubaix) will be deemed something of a failure.


Interviewed by Cyclingnews, he explained this new status: "The fact that you start with number 1 on your back means it will be different than before but I wasn’t an unknown name before last year either – there were some guys watching me – so the situation isn’t so different. With these kind of victories, you now know what the sacrifices are worth, so it gives me a big boost to go and be on an even better level in the classics this year."


Even if Fabian Cancellara and Tom Boonen have a impressive palmares, he pointed to other key rivals. "Fabian and Tom are very inspiring for me. It’s great to see what these guys have achieved, and it shows also with hard work and constant work you can still be successful on the highest level when you are over thirty. That’s my goal, too, to become a champion as they are one day," Degenkolb added. "But the biggest contender for the future is Alexander Kristoff, I think. Peter Sagan, of course, is an outstanding athlete but he also still needs to prove in the Classics season that he can win the big races. Of course he won the world championships, no question, but so far he hasn’t won a classic yet."


"I don’t think we [Giant-Alpecin] need to stress ourselves to be the team that has to do all the work in the classics,” he says. “There are really a lot of big names for the classics season and the pressure will be divided in the end. I’m really optimistic about that."


Degenkolb will start his 2016 season at the Dubai Tour and Tour of Qatar. He will also be present at Paris-Nice. "I’ll try to be on 100 percent from San Remo to Roubaix. The nice thing is that you have three monuments and all three of them have completely different characters."


He also explained his new leadership in his team without Marcel Kittel. "On the sporting level, it’s doesn’t really change anything. In terms of friendship, of course, it’s not nice not to have him on the team anymore. I was always good friends with him and I’m still good friends with him.


"We will have some nice sprints against each other now, I think, and that brings up some memories from the past. We first sprinted against each other when we were 15 or 16. Then as juniors we raced together, I went to his club and at that time, I was more of a sprinter than he was. But he had the time trial power and was double world champion in time trialling."


"We can definitely fit altogether in one team and as long as we are honest with each other and work for each other, there is no problem,” Degenkolb says. “I had the opportunity and the honour to be captain in Richmond. If it’s different in Doha, and we go for André or Marcel, for example, I have absolutely no problem to give 100 percent for them."



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