German cycling has made many headlines this season, and not only for the brilliant Tour de France they had. Doping stories revolving around their former, fallen, stars continue to rear their ugly heads.
Argos-Shimano rider John Degenkolb, who recently took victory in the Vattenfall Cyclassics – the first German to do so since 2001- hopes this year's successes can go some way to altering perceptions. "I think we are doing a really good job of showing that cycling has changed," he says in an exclusive interview with Procycling Week, which is out this Wednesday 4 September.
"The German media and the people out there were really angry about the cyclists in the generation before us and I think we are on a good way to winning the trust back."
Fed up of the scandals, which have dogged cycling over the past decade, German broadcasters ARD and ZDF dropped coverage of the Tour de France in 2008. Since then we've seen the country lose their ProTour teams Milram and Gerolsteiner. Their races have also fallen down the rankings, with the Vattenfall Cyclassics in Hamburg being the only WorldTour race in Germany.
The German sprinter says he can sympathise with the fans and media, who felt betrayed by their former heroes. "I personally got really disappointed with the era of [Erik] Zabel and [Jan] Ullrich," he says. "They were the big heroes and then you see all of this."
Despite the difficulties, Degenkolb welcomes the opportunity to return cycling in Germany to its former glory. "It's a hard challenge, but I think it is very important to just try it," said the Argos rider. "We see ourselves with the responsibility of being a good example. We have to show them that we can do clean sport and win races without any drugs or doping."
Degenkolb is currently preparing for the GPs Québec and Montréal, next week, as he gears up for the World Championships later this month. You can find the full interview with Degenkolb in the new look Procycling Week. The German rider tells us about how his victory at Vattenfall changed his season and what he hopes to achieve at the Worlds in Florence.
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