John Degenkolb has made up for his disappointment at Milan-Sanremo last weekend with an emphatic victory at Gent-Wevelgem in Belgium.
The race came down to a bunch sprint and John timed his effort to perfection, coming off the wheel to come past Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and launch his Giant across the line to take one of the biggest victories of his young career so far.
The team were made to work for it on what proved to be a hard, nervous race. As well as the testing parcours to tackle, there were crashes to avoid and a stong late attack of three riders which nearly foiled the chance of a sprint. Dries Devenyns was instrumental in the chase behind these three and did a great job to help bring the race back together before Koen de Kort and Ramon Sinkeldam came through at the end to set John up for the finish.
After the stage, John said: “This race is one of the really big classics and I am so happy to add Gent-Wevelgem to my palmares. The race worked out perfectly for us today. The guys were really strong and Dries did a great job chasing towards the end – he is really strong at the moment.
“Koen de Kort positioned me perfectly in the final, driving me onto Sagan’s wheel and I had the right position and could come through at the right time so it was a fantastic sprint. I am a very happy man.
“My shape is good and this is a good sign for the next big races. Last weekend at Milan-Sanremo was probably one of the most disappointing moments of my career, and today everything went 100% better than last week so I can forget about that disappointment now.”
“I’m so proud of the team performance today, the guys did a great job,” said Team Giant-Shimano coach, Aike Visbeek after the race.
“We were in control all the time and the plan was to have as many guys as possible with John at the end. Dries and John were always there when it was hard and Ramon and Koen were still present after the final climb but we decided to keep them back a bit for later.
“When the three riders went away at the end, Dries did an awesome job chasing really hard and then at the end John’s sprint was perfect.
“We have been preparing the classics for a long time and have put a lot of hard work in. This is a really big race and to win here is a great reward for all our efforts.”