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Degenkolb could return for cobbled Classics, says Giant-Alpecin manager

Giant-Alpecin team manager Iwan Spekenbrink has suggested that John Degenkolb could still ride the cobbled Classics, despite the injuries he suffered in the Giant-Alpecin training crash on Saturday, saying that comments by Spanish doctor Pedro Cavadas should be taken with a pinch of salt, with Degenklb already thinking of his comeback despite his serious injuries.  

Cavadas, who performed reconstructive surgery to save the tip of Degenkolb's left index finger, said the German, who also fractured the radius in his left arm and suffered a wound on his upper leg, would be out of action for three months.

Spekenbrink noted that it is impossible to put a date on a return to racing, but said that the German, who has returned home for further treatment, should be back racing in April and did not rule out an appearance at Paris-Roubaix, though he did concede that the Classics are now a write-off from a competitive point of view.

“The scenario is that he will not be in the Classics, or at least not at his full strength,” Spekenbrink told Cyclingnews

“We were a bit surprised by Spanish doctor from hospital making statements about what time it takes for a rider to come back. That’s one source but of course we rely on our own doctor who coordinates things. We cannot yet say when he will be back – it will take a bit of time to define. It depends on how his arm and hand recover, when the right time is to be on the bike to have no cast on his arm. There are some steps in his recovery that cannot be defined by saying ‘that takes so many days’. It’s an estimation in progress.”

A big blow for Giant-Alpecin

Warren Barguil, Chad Haga, Ramon Sinkeldam, Frederik Ludvigsson, and Max Walscheid also suffered injuries in the crash and the team has been set back severely, with Spekenbrink confirming to Cyclingnews that the team will be forced to miss certain races in the coming months. Degenkolb was the German team’s leading light last season, claiming a prestigious monument double of Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix, and the derailing of his Classics campaign is perhaps the most bitter pill to swallow. 

“It’s a big blow; there are no other words than to say it’s a big blow," said Spekenbrink. "He was so focused on the Classics; they are very important, those monuments in the sport. We were very much prepared for them, so it’s very much a blow.

"However, after the experience of last Saturday, it puts everything in a different perspective. There are also races in May, June, July through to October with nice goals. The bad luck at one moment offers opportunities at other moments. Another good thing is that we have always have the races every year. Milan-San Remo will be there again in 12 months and again in 24 months, so he has plenty of opportunities."

At 27, Degenkolb does indeed have plenty of time to add to his monument haul, but the team manager's sense of patience is not a feeling shared at this point by the rider himself. Spekenbrink described how keenly Degenkolb is already thinking about when he can get back to racing - and winning - even in the aftermath of an accident that could have taken his life. 

"Already in his head he's like, 'I have to get back'. He’s so driven, so motivated, so eager, and I really admire that," said Spekenbrink.

"I was even bit surprised to hear him like that; having survived such an incident maybe you would put things in a different perspective first, but it’s good to see how focused he is and how eager he is to show what he’s capable of.”

The latest episode of the Cyclingnews Podcast features an interview with Speckenbrink in which he talks about the crash, the aftermath and its impact from both a sporting and an emotional point of view. We also interview Cannondale team manager Jonathan Vaughters and discuss which we think is the best WorldTour kit of 2016. 

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Patrick Fletcher
Patrick Fletcher

Deputy Editor - Europe. Patrick is an NCTJ-trained journalist who has seven years’ experience covering professional cycling. He has a modern languages degree from Durham University and has been able to put it to some use in what is a multi-lingual sport, with a particular focus on French and Spanish-speaking riders. After joining Cyclingnews as a staff writer on the back of work experience, Patrick became Features Editor in 2018 and oversaw significant growth in the site’s long-form and in-depth output. Since 2021 he has been Deputy Editor - Europe, taking more responsibility for the site’s content as a whole, while still writing and - despite a pandemic-induced hiatus - travelling to races around the world. Away from cycling, Patrick spends most of his time playing or watching other forms of sport - football, tennis, trail running, darts, to name a few, but he draws the line at rugby.