MILAN (VN) — German John Degenkolb feels more pressure after winning not one, but two one-day monuments this season. The Milano-Sanremo and Paris-Roubaix winner, and victor of the Vuelta a España’s final stage Sunday, believes he can manage it for the upcoming world championships in Richmond, Virginia.
After helping his Giant-Alpecin teammate Tom Dumoulin in the Vuelta, Degenkolb sprinted to victory in stage 21 in Madrid. He returned home Monday, but will soon have to re-pack his luggage to travel to the United States for the worlds road race, slated for Sunday, September 27.
“In any race where I go, the attention is much more than before,” Degenkolb told VeloNews in a quiet moment during the Vuelta.
“That’s maybe one point that I need to learn now, just how to handle the situation. We have more pressure with interviews and journalists, but also in the race, teams look at you, search for your wheel and try to overtake you.
“Of course, I won’t go as a no-name [to the worlds], that time has passed after winning two monuments. It’ll never be that way again, where no one cares about you. But I’ve shown that I’m able to handle this pressure and still deliver a good performance in a big race.”
Germany named its nine-man team for the worlds last week with Degenkolb, a tough classics rider/sprinter, and sprinter André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) as its two captains.
Having two fast men on the roster could be the winning combination. Great Britain will also employ a two-man attack, with Geraint Thomas (Sky) and Mark Cavendish (Etixx-Quick-Step).
The riders must repeat the 16.2-kilometer circuit 16 times, which amounts to 259.2km and 1,648 meters of climbing. Those numbers are similar to what is found at the spring monuments — which is ideal for Degenkolb, who said he’s on good form.
“I’m happy with my shape. The values are good, that’s the most important thing,” Degenkolb said.
“The watts that I push on the climbs, I can hang on for a long time. Everyone complains of a hard [Vuelta], but I’m not suffering. When I’m dropped, it’s painful and not nice, but not so bad for me.
“I’m confident enough, and will start the race with good self-confidence.”
Besides winning the aforementioned monuments and a Vuelta stage, Degenkolb collected two second places in the Tour de France this year in addition to supporting Dumoulin over the last three weeks in Spain.
He explained that strength will overpower any added attention that comes with being a favorite.
“It’s not about the victories that came before, it’s also about your abilities, your qualities — that’s really important,” he said.
“The world championships is like a monument or classic, and you need to have that quality and talent for it, and of course, your shape needs to be good.”