John Degenkolb and his Trek-Segafredo team had a reconnaissance ride over part of the Paris-Roubaix course today and afterwards, the German spoke at a press conference about Sunday’s race.
“It felt good to be back on the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix, after all that is a very special place for me,” he said. “I think it’s my favourite race and it’s something unique to have the possibility to race there. I have won there already once and it gives a great feeling to come back there and to do all the cobble sectors, especially after last year when I missed out on this race, which was obviously a big disappointment. So now, to be back there definitely gave me a lot of positive vibes.”
Degenkolb won Paris-Roubaix in 2015, which followed on from his second place the year before so he will go into the race as one of the favourites.
“It’s definitely one of the hardest and toughest race of the year and that’s also what makes this race so special, that’s why I like it so much,” he said. “You need to be a real tough guy to survive until the finish line and there is so much history behind it and all that together makes it a very fascinating race for me.”
A big result has eluded him so far this season, but he has achieved top tens in Milan-San Remo, Tour of Flanders and Gent-Wevelgem, so the form is there. However, Degenkolb feels that you need more than just good form to win the race.
“My shape is good, I am ready to do a good race, but to do a good race, everything has to be a 100%, everything has to be perfect. I remember that 2 years ago everything just went perfect and everything worked out to my advantage. I hope of course that it will be the same this Sunday. Roubaix is also a race where you can “push the luck”. You will have to fight for it, you will have ups and downs, you might have a mechanical because the roads are so rough and then you need to change bikes as quickly as possible and chase back and even then … everything is still possible. Back in 2014 I finished 2nd on my spare bike, after breaking my first bike, so that proves that it really is a lot about keeping your fighting spirit, following your instincts, chasing your dreams and just going for it!”
Degenkolb will have a strong team supporting him at the start in Compiegne. Lining up alongside him will be Matthias Brandle, Boy van Poppel, Koen de Kort, Mads Pedersen, Gregory Rast, Jasper Stuyven and Edward Theuns.
“As a team, we have the ambition to be successful and to make a good result,” said Degenkolb. “If we look back on the past races, we were always there in the decisive situations but the final result is missing until now. I’ve been 7th in both Monuments now (Milano-Sanremo, Tour of Flanders), I’ve been 5th in Ghent-Wevelgem, I almost hit the top-10 in Harelbeke so it’s not that I am super far away. I think I did my homework this winter and I have all what it takes to be successful but now all has to come together on Sunday.”
“It would be nice to do a great race as a team, because I have super strong riders with me here. They are all very good for this race, they are the right type of rider to ride on the cobbles and to make an offensive race, to be always alert for the breakaways. Basically, that is how we did it in Flanders as well, where it was good to have Jasper in the break. He plays a very important role, he is one of the key factors to be successful.”