Whenever he's asked about his previous performance in the Tour de Pologne seven years ago, John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) answers with a laugh that although he won a stage, he had little idea of where he actually finished in the bunch sprint that day until he was close to crossing the line.
"I remember the sprint and the weather. I also remember that I couldn't see hardly anything because it was raining so hard," Degenkolb said before the opening stage of this year’s Tour de Pologne, where he finished ninth. "So it’s been a long time since I did the Tour de Pologne, but it’s great to be back again."
Degenkolb is now back racing in Poland for the first time since then. A ninth place in the opening sprint, if not a victory, certainly confirmed that the German is finding his way forward. Then his mid-terms objectives are the Vuelta a España and the UCI Road World Championships.
"I’ve been training for three weeks at altitude in Livigno, so I feel fresh and ready to race again," Degenkolb told Cyclingnews. "I’m still lacking some intensity here, but I’ll get that for sure here this week when I’m racing."
As for missing his team's Tour de France selection, Degenkolb admits it was on his list of possible objectives for 2019, but he is not unhappy with how things are going in the season in general.
"It was a case of plan A and plan B, and I’m happy with plan B at the moment and happy to be doing the Tour de Pologne and the Vuelta. Then we will see how my condition is for the Worlds," he said.
The 30-year-old former Paris-Roubaix and Milano-San Remo winner has certainly shone in the Vuelta a España in the past, and it has on both occasions been a good base for the Worlds. He took four stages of the Vuelta back in 2014 and the points jersey, as well as five stage in 2012. He then went on to finish fourth in the 2012 World Championships and ninth in 2014.
Speaking to other reporters, Degenkolb would not be drawn on his team plans for next year, saying a final decision has yet to be taken, although there are rumours he will be moving on from Trek-Segafredo after three seasons.