Degenkolb will make his long-awaited return to racing on Sunday in the Finanzplatz Eschborn-Frankfurt after almost four months out of the sport. The sprinter and several of his teammates were hit by a vehicle during a training ride in January and Degenkolb suffered a number of injuries, the most serious of which almost cost him an index finger.
The team have struggled for results so far this year as a result of the incident that also took out the likes of Warren Barguil and Chag Haga. All of the riders who were involved have since returned, bar Degenkolb, who races on Sunday. Winless so far, the team are desperate for Degenkolb to reach the level that saw him win Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix in 2015.
“He can get to that at level again. I have a lot of faith in him to come good again for the Tour de France,” de Kort told Cyclingnews.
“He obviously still needs time but he’s been training hard. I speak to him frequently and he’s feeling good. Doing races is still a bit different to training so he needs his time. He’s not going to win his first race back but I’m pretty sure it wont be long until he’s back to his peak level.
De Kort added that the team management has not put addition pressure on the riders within the squad to win races given the difficult circumstances under which they started the year. Although morale has been hard to find at times, the team have shown fight with a number of seconds and thirds during the spring, two of which have come during the Tour de Yorkshire courtesy of Nikias Arndt.
“It’s been a difficult start to the year, obviously missing some key riders from earlier on in the season was really hard. I think that we’ve done relatively well but obviously winning races and missing these kind of guys like John, and Barguil involved... that’s two our main riders. Then Dumoulin has had his injuries so we’ve missed three main guys for a part of the season,” de Kort told Cyclingnews.
“We’ve let our heads drop. We’ve kept fighting and done what we do best and raced as a team. It’s not resulted in a win yet and that’s a bit difficult and not great for morale. Then again we’ve not had any real pressure from the team. I think that a lot of people realise and understand our situation.”
For de Kort and Giant-Alpecin as a whole, Degenkolb’s return must feel like a new signing, given their sprinter’s absence from the first portion of the season.
“Luckily John is back racing on Sunday and everyone who was involved is back racing again. That really helps and we’re looking forward to starting the season properly now.”