Degenkolb begins Tour build-up at Frankfurt

John Degenkolb will return to action at the GP Frankfurt on Thursday having had a break from racing since he finished as runner-up at Paris-Roubaix. Speaking to Cyclingnews, the Giant-Shimano sprinter admitted to being extremely fatigued at the end of a busy Classics season during which he also won Gent-Wevelgem and finished 15th in Flanders, but says he is now refreshed as he begins his build-up towards the Tour de France.

Frankfurt is one of the biggest races of the year for Degenkolb, partly as it's on home turf but mainly because it’s organised by his wife of eight months, Laura. "After that I'm going to California and then I'l do a long three-week altitude training camp at Sierra Nevada, then return at the Tour of Switzerland, the national championships and then the Tour," said Degenkolb. "We're heading into our Tour preparations. Everything is focused on July now."

The 25-year-old German confessed that he still can't quite believe he finished second at Roubaix, a performance that he says backed up his conviction that he can win any one of the first three Monuments of the season.

"It makes me really proud to talk about it and watch the coverage back again. It's a great feeling to see myself not only in the race, but also in the important moves. When the really strong guys attacked I was able to follow," he said.

"In fact, we rode really well as a team. It was a great effort. Bert de Backer rode a very smart race and he was able to help me in the final when there were just the strong guys left. I'm really looking forward to the next Classics season and racing those three Monuments – San Remo, Flanders and Roubaix. They'll be my biggest goals for next year."

Having spent his debut season in the top ranks with HTC, Degenkolb is well placed to assess the oft-made comparison between that team and his current employers, particularly with regard to the lead-out they can give their sprint aces.

"I don't know if we’re better than HTC, but I think we're on the way to achieving similar things to that team," said Degenkolb, who took six wins in HTC colours in 2011, including the GP Frankfurt.

"They were a team with big engines, with lots of strong guys, a great lead-out train and, of course, a fast sprinter. I think we've got all those components. That was a reason why I chose this team because I could see some parallels and I'm very happy being here."

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Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling. He is the author of The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races (Bloomsbury, March 2014) and has translated Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break (Bloomsbury, July 2014).