You could almost feel the frustration coming through the television camera as John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) jumped – still riding his bike – up and down in anger on the descent of the Poggio. Degenkolb had done all he could to keep close to the climbers on the final climb of Milan-San Remo but a mechanical problem scuppered any chance he might have of getting back to the leading group.
After putting in a deep effort at the bottom of the Poggio to move up the main peloton, Degenkolb had lost contact with the front as the group split under pressure of the high pace set by the likes of Deceuninck-QuickStep. However, Degenkolb – whose bike was equipped with SRAM’s 1x 12-speed eTap groupset - dropped a chain on the descent of the climb.
Despite Degankolb’s best efforts, he could not get the chain back on, and with no team car anywhere near him, there was nothing he could do. Though he had been distanced, without the issue, Degenkolb believed that there was still an opportunity to bridge back the gap.
"The first monument of the year is done, and it’s actually a big disappointment for all of us," Degenkolb said in a video posted by his Trek-Segafredo team. "Until the bottom of the Poggio, everything went perfect. It was really good to arrive in good shape with good legs.
"My position going into the climb was not great, so I had to suffer a bit to stay in the group there and make a good position. Then, it split in front of me, but even then, there was still a chance to come back, I believe, and then I had a mechanical and then the race was over. I’m very happy how the team worked as great together as we did. I hope we can [get a] reward in the next races."
In the end, Degenkolb would finish in 84th place at 2:37 back while Gianluca Brambilla was the team’s best finisher in 34th place at 27 seconds behind the winner Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep). Directeur sportif Steven de Jongh said that losing out to a mechanical problem at Milan-San Remo was a bitter blow.
"Just after the roundabout the guys were squeezed and lost positioning into the Poggio and that was not superb. But there was still a possibility after the downhill to organize because some other teams also didn't have the right guy up there," De Jongh explained.
"John said in the radio that he felt really good and had the legs to do something, but his positioning on Poggio cost him a lot of energy, but he still he believed he could do a good sprint. Then when you have a mechanical and lose everything that's really bitter."
The result is another disappointment for Trek-Segafredo, who have endured a difficult Classics campaign this spring. The best they could muster in the ‘Opening Weekend’ at the start of this month was 14th at Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne. The team will be hoping for better when they return to Belgium for the resumption of the cobbled Classics for Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne this coming Wednesday.