The Tour de Picardie (Cat. 2.1) finished on Sunday and John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano) was able to take home his second stage win at the French three-day event, as well as the overall victory. The German, who had already taken the first stage on Friday, missed out on his chance to win again on the second day due to a dangerous sprint manouevre by Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ-BigMat), but made amends on the final stage, defending his overall jersey.
The 23-year-old was delighted to score his first stage race victory. "With what happened on Saturday, I had no other choice but to win," he told L'Equipe. "It was a real pressure, because there was my first success at a general classification at stake."
Degenkolb, who often wins twice at the same stage race (two stages at the 2010 Tour de l'Avenir, two stages at the 2011 Critérium du Dauphiné, two stages at the 2012 Quatre Jours de Dunkerque, amongst others) is only just behind his star teammate Marcel Kittel in terms of season victories (four aganist five for Kittel), and hopes to co-lead his squad with the fellow German at the Tour de France this July.
His schedule leading up to the grand tour involves two mountainous stage races in order to prepare his body for the challenges ahead. Degenkolb is planned to race the Bayern Rundfahrt from May 22-27, then the Critérium du Dauphiné from June 3-10.
"It's a challenging, mountainous event, but I have to inflict this type of suffering on myself for what's to come later," added Degenkolb, who has already raised hopes to try for the green jersey at the Tour. His fifth placing in Milan-Sanremo and good showings in the Spring Classics have confirmed that he has the stamina needed in the run for the best sprinter over three weeks of racing.
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