John Degenkolb continued his good record at his 'home race' of Eschborn-Frankfurt by finishing third in a cold and wet edition behind Katusha-Alpecin's Alexander Kristoff and Rick Zabel. Degenkolb remains the last German winner of the race in 2011, and his third place was his third time on the podium.
While the likes of world champion Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and the Quick-Step Floors duo of Marcel Kittel and Fernando Gaviria opted for an early finish to the day of racing, Degenkolb and his Trek-Segafredo team were fully committed to chasing a result.
"Riding the whole day in the pouring rain wasn't really pleasant," said Degenkolb. "I believe these weather conditions made the race very, very hard and, in fact, that was to my advantage.
"I am proud of the race we did as a team, and I am proud of my third place, even though in cycling only the first place counts. I am still satisfied," he added. "Despite the rain, there were so many people along the road; it was amazing! Everyone showed such pure passion for cycling. There is nothing more beautiful than a home race, and I was happy to be a part of it."
The race was Degenkolb's first after a break following the classics and marked a year since his return to racing after the Giant-Alpecin training ride crash of January derailed his 2016 season. As Degenkolb prepares for his mid-season targets, he took confidence from the fact that a mechanical - not his legs - impinged upon his sprint for the win.
"With 500 meters to go I was in perfect position, in fifth wheel, and I told Jasper to go but he couldn't because his chain went out and he couldn't pedal anymore," Degenkolb said of the incident with teammate Jasper Stuyven. "There was a small gap, and I had to start sprinting too early, and I wasn't able to overtake them."
Despite the dropped chain, Stuyven held on to finish in seventh place but expressed his disappointment with the outcome.
"I couldn't do my lead out at all and John had to go from pretty far. He ended up third, but if I could have done my lead out properly, it would have been a nice battle between John and Kristoff. At the least, we would have been second."
Stuyven will head to Sardinia this week having been named in Trek-Segafredo's Giro d'Italia team, while Degenkolb focuses his attention on the Tour de France in July.
Thank you for signing up to Cycling News. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.