John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) is never far from people's minds when considering the favourites for the World Championships in Richmond, Virginia. Degenkolb couldn't have given himself a better send off to the United States by winning the final stage of the Vuelta a Espana.
The victory is his 10th at the Vuelta and makes up for a series of near-misses in Grand Tours. Cyclingnews spoke to the big German after he sealed his morale-boosting victory on the final Vuelta stage into Madrid.
Cyclingnews: How does winning the last stage of the Vuelta feel when it comes to building up for the Worlds?
John Degenkolb: It gives me a lot of motivation. I'll recover now and then I'm flying to America on Wednesday. I will make my final preparation there on the circuit. I love long one-day races, and I will be 100 percent focused for the Worlds.
CN: How do you feel about it generally?
JD: I think I'm really relaxed about the Worlds this year, my shape is good and I have big ambitions but I'm not the top favourite for the race. There are many other guys who are big contenders, but I'll do my best. I'll see what I can do.
CN: What are your conclusions from the Vuelta overall?
JD: I'm in good shape, it helps to have been racing as a team worker [for Giant-Alpecin's Tom Dumoulin - Ed.] I went well on the big [first category] climb on stage 18 to Riaza, for example, and that gives me a lot of confidence.
CN: Any thoughts on the World's circuit itself? It's said to be very selective.
JD: It's always hectic and selective. I've seen the profile and map, not a video, but I don't expect a big bunch sprint in the World's. To be honest I don't think it will be like the big bunch that we had in Copenhagen  or Zolder . That would suit me, but I'm not saying I'm the top favourite.
CN: So what is the plan? Are you doing the trade team time trial?
JD: No. I'm going out ten days before the race, so I have enough time to recover from the Vuelta, adapt to the time difference and everything. I'll maybe do some long training rides and then everything should be ok for Sunday [September 27th] to be ready to try for the win.
CN: How is it looking for Germany's overall strategy?
JD: It looks now as if I am team captain, a leader in the race, but we have also André Greipel. It could be there's a [mass] bunch sprint in the end and then he will be there. We could switch from Plan A to Plan B.
CN: And after the World's?
JD: That's it for my season.
Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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