John Degenkolb may not have finished his first race of the season but the Rund um den Finanzplatz Eschborn-Frankfurt was nevertheless a success for the Giant-Alpecin rider who was hit by a car while in a team training ride in January. Degenkolb, who was the fifth of the six riders involved in the crash to return to racing, recorded a DNF to his name at his home race but explained it was an important first step in his recovery.
"From the start, I've tried to show myself at the front of the bunch and to have a good race. Relatively early in the race, the pace was really high, and after four hours of racing, as expected, it was enough. Overall, I am satisfied with my ride and I tried to work for the team as much as possible," said Degenkolb who won the race in 2011 and was runner up to Alexander Kristoff in 2014.
A fracture to his left radius and a severed left index finger that required reconstructive surgery were the major injuries sustained by Degenkolb in the crash.
"It would have been nice if Simon [Geschke] or Sam [Oomen] got away on the last climb, but in the end, it was a sprint and I hope next year that I can be involved in it," he added.
The 27-year-old added that after the race was cancelled in 2015 due to fears of a terrorist attack, the atmosphere created by the crowds was added encouragement for his return.
"The support from the people, the fans was amazing today and it's great for my confidence for the upcoming months. I didn't have any specific preparation for this race on my way towards the Tour. The first step was to pin on a race number and I am really happy how it went today, " he added.
Having missed the classics, including the defence of his Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix titles, Degenkolb has turned his attention to winning a stage of the Tour de France in July.
"I hope my current freshness will be to my advantage near the end of the season. At the moment, I don't have the needed intensity yet, but I hope I will have it again at the Tour," said Degenkolb who has won stages at the Vuelta a Espana and Giro d'Italia.
Giant-Alpecin are yet to announce Degenkolb's next races as he builds form and condition for the Tour.