It was touch and go as to whether the race would come back down to a sprint after a strong breakaway pushed the chase to the limit, but the team didn’t have to do any work behind as Ramon Sinkeldam (NED) was in the move.
This meant that they could keep Degenkolb out of trouble and near the front without losing any energy, before setting him up perfectly with a seamless lead-out.
Despite a 24-second gap with just three kilometres remaining, the race came back together for a bunch kick where Degenkolb proved that even this late in the season, he still has some of the fastest legs in the peloton.
That takes Team Argos-Shimano’s win tally to 24 for the season, and this is Degenkolb’s third win of the year.
“It was a perfect race from the team today,“ said coach Marc Reef (NED). „We started to help chase the break mid-race, and then Belkin split the bunch into echelons. We were in a good position with Ramon and Roy in the front group.
„After a few kilometres the groups came back together and Ramon, together with two others, attacked. They stayed away till the final kilometre meaning that all the other guys could group around John, react to attacks and prepare John for the sprint.
„The train waited until the race came back together, then Bert De Backer (BEL) and Roy Curvers (NED) started the lead-out for John. It was a perfect lead-out and the kind of lead-out that suits John best.
„You can really see the trust in each other and the communication between the guys which makes a real difference. It is always difficult to lead-out with different sprint trains, but all the guys are experienced and professionals and know what to do.“
„Today was a good day, it was tricky to be smart enough and not waste too much energy while marking the important moves but we did a perfect job,“ said a very happy Degenkolb after the finish. „Yesterday I felt still a bit tired after the Worlds, but today I felt better and I am very happy that I could finish off the excellent teamwork today.
„When Ramon was in the break we knew he had a good chance as he was the fastest, but unfortunately the other guys in the break didn’t want to ride with him. It would have been good if he could have battled for the win himself.
„From now on we will take it stage-by-stage and see how we get on in the GC. It will be a fight with bonus seconds, but hopefully we can repeat today’s success.“