John Degenkolb’s (HTC-Highroad) impressive season continued on Thursday as he won the Criterium du Dauphiné’s fourth stage over a number of higher profile sprinters. The German neo pro proved again that he can mix it with the world’s best; unleashing a controlled but powerful final 100 metres allowed him to beat the more favoured Boasson Hagen to the line.
"I’ll realize better about what I’ve achieved when I get back home", said the HTC-Highroad rider to Cyclingnews.
"[The finale] was tense because of the roundabouts. The Garmin-Cervélo team rode well for Tyler Farrar and my team-mates did a great job as well for catching the two breakaway riders. I sprinted from 200 metres but only in the last 50 metres I managed to pass Boasson Hagen," explained Degenkolb.
"My positioning for the sprint wasn’t the best but I had enough punch to stay in the front," Degenkolb continued. "It’s not a big surprise for me that I beat riders like Boasson Hagen and Farrar. I’m sure that other times they’ll beat me. I’m just really motivated at the moment and I think that makes me unbeatable."
HTC-Highroad’s directeur sportif Brian Holm was surprised at how fast his young star is developing.
"To tell you the truth, I wasn’t sure that John would be able to compete against these guys [Farrar and Boasson Hagen] on the flat as well as he could do it in a hill. But it seems that there’s something of an Erik Zabel in this guy -and a bit of Mark Cavendish as well."
Holm also clearly delighted to collect the third stage win in a row for HTC-Highroad at the Dauphiné in five days of racing. Degenkolb and yesterday’s winner Tony Martin have more in common than many might think. Obviously both German, the two were also both part of the Thuringer Energie development team and are both qualified as policeman.
Degenkolb also took the lead of the points classification at the Dauphiné but the last three stages aren’t exactly for him with a lot of mountains on the agenda. "It’s been my dream for a long time to wear the green jersey of the Tour de France and this race gives me the feeling of the Tour de France," said the rider from Gera.
"There aren’t any more stages for me at the Dauphiné but I’ll stay in the race," Degenkolb said. "I need to get through those three days in the mountains! It’s going to be very hard and I don’t think it’s possible for me to take the green jersey of the Dauphiné home but I’m mainly here to prepare for my future."
The Criterium du Dauphiné will head into the mountains today with a difficult medium mountain stage, 210 km from Parc des Oiseaux to Les Gets.