Skil-Shimano has added to its stable of young talent by signing John Degenkolb on a two-year contract. The German neo-professional joins the squad from HTC-Highroad, which will cease operations at the end of the season.
Degenkolb has clocked up six victories so far this season, including two impressive stage wins at the Critérium du Dauphiné in June, and he is hopeful that he will be afforded even greater scope to develop in his new squad.
“This is a great opportunity for me,” Degenkolb said. “I may have been part of the best team in the world, but with my new team I will probably have even more chances and with the choice of this project, I’m convinced that I can prove myself on the highest level next year. In the Classics, I will have an open role that really suits me.”
A sharp sprinter, Degenkolb will face stiff internal competition at Skil-Shimano from his fellow countryman and new professional Marcel Kittel, who has won 12 races in 2011. Degenkolb is confident that the pair can dovetail its efforts, however, having raced together in the Thüringer Energie set-up before turning professional.
“My new team is also building a strong sprint train so that I can compete in mass sprints as well,” he said. “Marcel Kittel and I are both quick, complement each other and we can also get along with each other really well.”
Skil-Shimano general manager Iwan Spekenbrink was enthusiastic about his new acquisition, which follows on the back of the arrival of Patrick Gretsch from HTC-Highroad.
“His signing underlines our ambition and reinforces our intention to represent Skil-Shimano in the biggest and most important races,” Spekenbrink said. “We believe that a cyclist like John has the potential of becoming a future green jersey winner.”
Currently a Pro Continental outfit, the Skil-Shimano could be in line to graduate to the WorldTour if it succeeds in landing a team leader. The Dutch squad have been linked with HTC-Highroad’s Tony Martin, but Spekenbrink refused to be drawn on the possibility of signing the German when contacted by Cyclingnews last week.