John Degenkolb: “The podium in Paris-Roubaix was the next big step of my career”
Gent-Wevelgem, four stages and the points jersey in the Vuelta, and a total of ten wins, this is the impressive palmares of John Degenkolb at the end of the 2014 season, his best to date. Also, the 25-year-old German made some significant improvements during the past months, which helped him finish two Grand Tours for the first time in his career and thus be one of the most consistent riders of the peloton, despite having a long season, with no less than 88 race days.
After the excellent season he had, John Degenkolb went on a holiday, but before that he made some time for an interview, in which he reflected on his results and talked about his goals for 2015, a year he hopes to be as best as this one.
– John, how would you rate your season?
I was planning to do a successful season and it worked out. It was a really nice season, during which I worked hard from the beginning until the end. I had a great Spring campaign, but I must admit that in the Tour de France I was disappointed with the crash and the fact I couldn’t win a stage. Then, the Vuelta was great, and the same goes for the one-day races after the Vuelta.
– Speaking of the Vuelta, you were more thrilled for your stage wins or for taking the green jersey?
The points jersey in a Grand Tour, especially your first one, is something emotional and very exciting. I’m very proud of winning it. Of course, I enjoyed the stage wins as well, but it was very important to take the green jersey, which was a big goal for me since before the start of the race.
– Back to the the Spring Classics: in terms of confidence and what you can do in the future, which result was more important, winning Gent-Wevelgem or finishing second in Paris-Roubaix?
The podium in Paris-Roubaix was really special, because it was for the first time in my career that I stood on the podium in a Monument. Gent-Wevelgem is an important race, but Paris-Roubaix is something different, with all that great history behind it and the special moments it had. It was the next big step of my career to be up there on the podium, I had a great feeling and it was very significant for me.
– Despite some health problems, you raced at the World Championships. How was the race?
Really, really hard. It was a tough race, also because of the problems I’ve had after the Vuelta, when my white blood cells were high and I had to take a lot of antibiotics in order to get rid of the infection in my body. That made me lose energy for the Worlds, and even tough I was 100% focused and motivated, it was very difficult. But, despite all these problems, I got a top 10 and showed that I’ve improved and can cope better in difficult races and still get a nice result.
– Do you now feel that in one-day races your rivals are refusing to work when there’s an attack, because they are aware of how strong you are in a sprint?
Yes, and this something I will have to handle in the following years, because if some riders will be with me in the first group not far from the finish, they will know it will be hard to beat me, so will try to drop me, or catch me in a trap and make things more difficult for me.
– Earlier, you said that you are much stronger after this season. What did you improve in the past months?
I’m stronger mentally and this helped me stay more calm in the important situations. This was my fourth year as a professional and in every season my “engine” is becoming bigger and bigger. I have more power, and this was the reason for which I chose to do the Tour de France and straight afterwards the Vuelta. This busy schedule I had will have a big influence on my body structure in the winter and for the next Classics season. We hope that this will help me to be in a better shape in the Classics.
– What goals will you have for next year?
My main goal is to repet the results I’ve had this year, and first of all to have another strong Classics season. Then, I will definitely like to do the Tour de France again. This is the biggest race in cycling and if you are successful there, then you get a lot of attention. It’s very important to be there and I don’t want to miss it, especially as one of my other goals for 2015 is to win a stage in the Tour de France.