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Degenkolb hints he won’t race at Tour de France

2018 stage winner John Degenkolb suggests he won't be selected for the Tour de France, as Trek-Segafredo focuses on Richie Porte's GC ambitions

German ace John Degenkolb said he might not race this year’s Tour de France.

Ahead of the start of this week’s Tour de Suisse, Degenkolb told the German website RadSport that it’s unlikely he’ll start the Tour. Trek-Segafredo officials Monday told VeloNews that the final Tour selection will not be made until after the Swiss tour and that Degenkolb remains on the team’s “long list”.

Degenkolb, 30, also echoed that the roster selection has not been finalized, but suggested that he likely will miss the Tour for the first time since his 2013 debut.

“As it stands now, I won’t be racing the Tour de France,” Degenkolb told radsport-news.com. “It’s a decision that I fully accept, because what’s good for the team is good for all of us.”

Degenkolb hinted the team is going to rally around Richie Porte and a full push for the GC, a decision that could be even more relevant following a training crash last week that will keep four-time winner Chris Froome (Ineos) out of the race.

Porte joined Trek-Segafredo in a two-year deal this season and rode to 11th at the Critérium du Dauphiné on Sunday. Porte, who has not finished a Tour de France since finishing a career-best fifth in 2016, will be among the favorites for the yellow jersey in light of confirmation that four-time Tour winner Froome will not be starting due to injuries from a crash last week.

Trek-Segafredo won’t be the only team recalibrating its Tour plans in wake of Froome’s crash that will leave the Ineos captain on the sidelines for the remainder of the season.

If Degenkolb doesn’t go to the Tour, it’s another example of how teams are struggling with their Tour tactics in light of having one fewer rider on their grand tour rosters. Last year, the UCI trimmed grand tour rosters from nine to eight riders. Though it might not seem like a major difference, top GC teams have a harder time backing a sprinter in the Tour if they have a serious Tour podium contender to support.

Of this year’s teams that have already confirmed their Tour rosters, only Jumbo-Visma has decided to bring a mixed squad, with both a top sprinter as well as a podium contender. The Dutch team will line up with Steven Kruijswijk, who finished fifth in 2018, and Dylan Groenewegen, who won two stages last year.

Degenkolb has raced every Tour since 2013, and finally won a stage in last year’s edition after a string of near-misses, claiming stage 9 contested over sectors of cobblestones.

In what’s in another wrinkle, Degenkolb is in a contract year following three seasons with Trek-Segafredo. The Dutch website Wielerfleits reported that Lotto-Soudal has the German Milano-Sanremo and Paris-Roubaix in mind to bolster the Belgian team’s classics program.

One of Trek-Segafredo’s sponsors confirmed earlier this month that Vincenzo Nibali will join the U.S.-registered WorldTour team next year.