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Degenkolb looking forward to Lotto life with Ewan and Gilbert

(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Just three days away from the end of his season, and with it his tenure at Trek-Segafredo, John Degenkolb is looking ahead to next year, the first of a two-year contract with Belgian squad Lotto Soudal.

The move comes after three years spent at the American team, which has seen Degenkolb take five victories, including a Tour de France stage in 2018. Speaking before the start of stage 4 of the Tour of Guangxi, Degenkolb said that, while there's still racing to be done, he's excited about what lies in store in the next two seasons.

"Yeah, I'm thinking about next year," he told Cyclingnews. "There's two exciting years ahead, and it's going to be a new big challenge in my career to have a new team, a good team around me. I'm looking forward to that.

"It was obviously a decision that depended on the classics and having opportunities to go there, having a very balanced team as well."

Degenkolb will link up with a fellow Paris-Roubaix winner Philippe Gilbert, who is also joining the team next season, to form something of a veteran classics dream duo. On the sprint side, triple Tour de France stage winner Caleb Ewan is Lotto's main man.

The presence of both leaders is a positive for Degenkolb, he said, indicating that the anticipated shared responsibilities next season will ease the pressure on him.

"With another sprinter in Caleb Ewan I think that's really good for me also – to not have a lot of the pressure in the bunch sprints. And also with Gilbert, going into the classics there's another guy who can share responsibilities. I think it will fit really well."

Degenkolb's farewell season with Trek hasn't been the best of his career to date, with a sole win coming at the Tour de la Provence back in February. Runner-up spots at Gent-Wevelgem and Eschborn-Frankfurt show how close he was to bagging a big one, though.

The 30-year-old admits that it hasn't been a great season for him personally, but that his time at the team has been all positive.

"It's been a year with ups and downs," he said. "Not a fantastic year. It was a hard Vuelta in the end which has cost a lot of energy, and now I'm happy that the season is over soon.

"It's been a great time [at Trek] though, for sure. I've really enjoyed being with the team – I've loved the guys around here and it's been a great experience the last few years."

"Tell him how much you're going to miss me," interjected Ryan Mullen, before Degenkolb jokingly hits back with a joke about the Irishman's snoring.

Paris-Roubaix, the race closest to Degenkolb's heart, and the scene of probably his two most famous victories, is high on his mind when asked about the past three years, as well as the two upcoming seasons with his new team.

"Of course, the biggest highlight was winning the Tour de France stage in Roubaix, which was, I think, one of the nicest victories in my career. So that's something nice to remember and look back on.

"Roubaix is always one of the main goals for me personally, because it's basically my favourite race. And if you've won this race once then your passion for it is so big. Obviously, we haven't spoken about the team goals for next year, but for sure it will be one of the big ones."