Degenkolb optimistic he can play a role in finale of Tour of Flanders
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Friday, March 29, 2013

Degenkolb optimistic he can play a role in finale of Tour of Flanders

by VeloNation Press at 8:28 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Tour of Flanders
Argos Shimano’s women’s team confident in chances of Kirsten Wild

John DegenkolbMost are looking to riders such as Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack Nissan), Peter Sagan (Liquigas Cannondale), last year’s winner Tom Boonen or perhaps his Omega Pharma Quick Step team-mate Sylvain Chavanel as the most dangerous riders in this Sunday’s Gent Wevelgem, but one who hopes to play a dark horse role is the German rider John Degenkolb.

The Argos Shimano rider is one of the fastest finishers in the peloton, as shown by his five stage victories in last year’s Vuelta a España, and is also a strong performer on lumpy courses.

While he won’t have the horsepower to match a rider such as Cancellara if the attacks go from far out, he could be a factor if the race becomes a tactical one in the finale.

“I went home from Gent-Wevelgem last weekend and got in some good training at home,” said Degenkolb, talking about his preparation. “I did some intense training and felt good. Now I’m really looking forward to racing the Tour of Flanders.

“It is one of the monuments in cycling and a special race, with a great atmosphere and lots of spectators. I hope to play a role in the finale. I will try to hang on longer than I did in the last races, but my condition has improved so I feel confident.”

Degenkolb was eighteenth in Milan Sanremo, finishing in the large chasing group fourteen seconds behind the winner Gerald Ciolek (MTN Qhubeka). According to sports manager Marc Reef, the tactic of the team is to guide him through the race and preserve as much of his strength as is possible for the end of the race.

“Our aim in the Tour of Flanders is to ride an aggressive race, be part of the action right from the start, and bring John Degenkolb into the finale as fresh as possible,” he said. “We will have to be extremely attentive, because in this race anything can happen, but all the guys are ready and focused although we had to make some last-minute changes in our lineup due to the sickness of Tom Stamsnijder.”

Kirsten WildDegenkolb will be backed by Nikias Arndt, Bert de Backer, Will Clarke, Roy Curvers, Reinardt Janse van Rensburg, Koen de Kort and Ramon Sinkeldam.

The team also has high ambitions for the women’s Ronde, where the best riders in the sport will fight it out over 127.4 kilometres. Kirsten Wild has been in excellent form this year, netting three stages plus the overall in the Tour of Qatar plus victory in Gent-Wevelgem. She finished second in the past, as well as taking two third places, and feels it is time that she takes the victory in Flanders.

Sports manager Cees-Jan van der Zweep said that she is highly motivated for the race. “The team has done a lot of training and races recently and I think everyone is ready for it. Looking at Kirsten Wild’s results in previous years, the only thing that counts for her is first place,” he said.

“This race is one of her biggest goals for the season. With the support of our young team, she should be able to show something good.”

Charlotte Becker, Esra Tromp, Lucy Garner, Willeke Knol and Amy Pieters will dedicate themselves to helping her win the Classic.



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