German John Degenkolb from HTC-Highroad collected his first success at World Tour level as he rode the finale to perfection to win the Critérium du Dauphiné stage 2 in Lyon. At the top of the côte de la Croix-Rousse, the WorldTour debutant outsprinted Thomas Voeckler and Samuel Dumoulin, the two Frenchmen tipped for the victory, and therefore confirmed the excellent beginning of his pro career.
This is his fifth victory of the year after stage 2 of the Tour of Algarve, stage 1 of the Three Days of West Flanders, the GP Frankfurt and stage 2 of the Tour of Bayern. "I've had a super start and this is another super victory," Degenkolb said in Lyon. "I'm absolutely happy."
The 22-year-old from Gera, the town of former cycling greats Olaf Ludwig and Jens Heppner, showed an amazing self-control when Voeckler and Dumoulin attacked in the final kilometer. "I knew they would do it," Degenkolb told Cyclingnews.
"I'm a neo-pro but it was obvious these guys would be very strong in a finish like this. When I saw three riders from Cofidis going to the front at the bottom of the final climb, they were evidently preparing something for Dumoulin. I found the best position, in third place at the last corner, from where I was able to take the shortest way to the finishing line."
The Frenchman who came second admitted the superiority of the newcomer. "I was just beaten by someone stronger than me," commented Dumoulin who suggested that he doesn't exactly have the same physique as Degenkolb. The Cofidis rider is 1.59m high while the German is 1.80m for 71kg. The neo pro from HTC-Highroad is very powerful as well.
"I don't need to have a lead-out man like Matt Goss or Mark Renshaw to win stages like today's," Degenkolb said. "In this team, we have riders who have a lot of experience on all the terrains. I only need to watch them racing to improve my cycling."
Degenkolb is experiencing his great season in a year in which much of the German media and national television channels have opted for a black out on bike races. "To bring the German media back to cycling, we need to have clean winners and that's what is happening now with Tony Martin, Andre Greipel and myself," said Degenkolb, not to mention his former teammate at Thüringer Energie, Marcel Kittel, who has been even more successful. In his first six months as a professional Kittel won stage 3 of Le Tour de Langkawi, four stages at the Four Days of Dunkirk and the Pro Race Berlin.
Degenkolb also shows exceptional abilities in the Classics as he made the front group of Paris-Roubaix and finished 19th. "I don't feel in a hurry to ride the Tour de France," he said. "I won't do it this year but maybe next year, or the year after."
At the Dauphiné, he has another occasion to score on stage 4 in Mâcon after the individual time trial in Grenoble on Wednesday.