John Degenkolb and Project 1t4i went into Milan-San Remo with the goal of having at least one rider in at the finish. They accomplished even more than that, with Degenkolb taking fifth place, only two seconds behind the leading trio. Not only that, he had two other teammates in the first chase group.
“For me personally, the top ten would be an enormous success and a great dream,” he said last week.
“I am very satisfied with this result,” he said on his personal website. “Of course, there will soon be questions of whether I think I can win in the future.” He is not thinking that far ahead at the moment, deciding rather to simply enjoy his fifth place in his first stab at Milan-San Remo. “It was a wonderful race with an exciting finale and I showed that this race suits me.”
Degenkolb was at the front of the first group chasing the eventual podium of Simon Gerrans, Fabian Cancellara and Vincenzo Nibali. “I was in something of a tough spot in San Remo,” he said. “Ahead, three riders were gone and I opened the sprint behind them. I had to take the risk that someone would come from behind.” Peter Sagan of Liquigas did exactly that, taking the sprint of the field.
He was praised for his performance by none other than four-time Milan-San Remo winner and former German sprint start Erik Zabel. “Directly in fifth place at his first Milan-San Remo – and that was at just 23 years of age. That can become his race someday,” the Katusha directeur sportif said.
He did not do nearly as well in his first go at the race. “I started here at 23, too, but I think I finished five minutes after the winner, as about 100th in the end.”
Zabel added that the cycling world can expect much more of Degenkolb. “We will hear from him again at the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix,” he predicted.