Sports manager Rolf Aldag says he expects Germany to play the John Degenkolb card in today's World Championships should it come down to a bunch sprint of around 50 riders - a widely predicted outcome to the 267 kilometre race at the start in Maastricht this morning.
Degenkolb has won 15 races this season, as well as taking fifth in Milan-San Remo, thereby proving he not only has the speed, but can also go the distance.
"I think he's proved he's strong after those five stage wins in the Vuelta, as well as taking that win last weekend at the GP d'Isbergues," Aldag told Cyclingnews at the start in Maastricht.
Encouragingly for the German sprinter, Aldag, who raced in Valkenburg back in 1992, said, "It's not as hard as it looks this time, only ten laps [of the final circuit]. In 1998, it took a long, long time to fall apart even though it was tripping with rain and really bad conditions. Not so hard to hang on, because with that long, long downhill after the Cauberg, it's not so easy for a small group to get away and stay away. It's hang on, get back, hang on, get back.
"For the Germans, they should not be visible throughout the whole race, they ought to just fly under the radar and wait for the finish, even if they get in a break.
"They have to ride super-conservative, stay on wheels, and save energy. Because the bigger the group at the finish, the better it is for us.
"If it really turns out to be aggressive, and falls apart, there are guys for us like Paul Martens, who's racing on ‘home soil' because he races for Rabobank, who could go in the moves."
However, Aldag said, "If they have any chance of winning the title, then I think it's going to be with Degenkolb."
Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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