Degenkolb emerges from classics as a monuments contender

The 25-year-old German racked up a win and a runner-up in Belgium and northern France

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John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) is cooling his jets after a breakout northern classics campaign that saw the 25-year-old German confirm his status as a contender for monuments season.

Victory at Gent-Wevelgem and a second at Paris-Roubaix proved to everyone that Degenkolb has the chops to battle for victory in the most grueling conditions.

“We are very content with John’s performances during the classics,” Giant sport director Marc Reef told VeloNews. “The whole team rode great throughout all the races. Even with some bad luck in a few races, we got the big results we were looking for. John is already at a high level, and will only improve in the coming years.

Coupled with Marcel Kittel’s emphatic victory at Scheldeprijs for a third consecutive time, Giant was one of the top performers across the northern classics.

The team hopes to continue its success across the Ardennes, but the success on the cobblestones of Belgium and France only fuel motivation for the future.

Reef said Degenkolb should only improve in the coming years.

“His strength and maturity will continue to evolve. Experience counts a lot for these races. And he took a big step forward this year,” he said. “These are the races that he is excited about. These performances will motivate him even more.”

After Roubaix, Degenkolb is taking a recovery break before resuming racing in May.

Giant officials confirmed he’s scheduled to race on home roads at the Rund um den Finanzplatz-Frankfurt on May 1, which he won in 2011, before heading to the United States for the Amgen Tour of California, where he will square off against the likes of Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step).

Of course, the California start means he won’t be riding to help teammate Marcel Kittel in his debut at the Giro d’Italia.

Degenkolb will likely race the Tour de Suisse in June before linking up again with Kittel for the Tour de France in July.

Degenkolb and Kittel form a formidable pairing for the Tour, when Degenkolb works to set up his big compatriot for the pure sprints. Degenkolb also has freedom to race for results in hillier, more challenging finales.

For Degenkolb, these cobblestone results only fuel his ambitions for the future.

“These monuments are the races I really love, and the ones that I want to focus on in the future,” Degenkolb said. “We can be really proud in second place. It’s the next step in growing to be on the podium of a monument. I hope someday to win these races.”

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