By Sophie Smith
In-form German sprinter John Degenkolb is close to penning a contract extension with his Argos-Shimano team following a successful Tour de France debut.
The 24-year-old had reason to celebrate after the centenary edition but has not rested on his laurels with attention now turning to a world titles berth later this month.
Degenkolb is off-contract but confirmed he is currently in negotiations with the Dutch WorldTour squad that he wishes to stay with.
"I'm really happy. There are a few things to clear up but there's no question for me to go to another team," he told Cycling Weekly today.
Degenkolb was disappointed with a 10th place finish at yesterday's GP Ouest France-Plouay, which Filippo Pozzato (Lampre-Merida) claimed. He had entered as a favourite following a convincing victory at Hamburg's Vattenfall Cyclassics last month.
"I got boxed in, in the sprint, and I was alone. I just rolled over the line because there was no space. It's disappointing but I can't change it any more," he said.
"I'm pretty sad that Koen [de Kort] broke his collarbone for the second time this year [in Hamburg]. Otherwise he would be there with me and could have maybe helped me to win that race."
Degenkolb was a co-leader at the Tour in which he finished second to Peter Sagan (Cannondale) in stage seven and was part of the train that assisted compatriot Marcel Kittel to four stage victories. He took part in a handful of ceremonial criteriums after and then married before returning to racing at Eneco.
"The biggest event after the Tour was my wedding. It was the weekend before Eneco, which I think influenced my condition," he mused.
"But it was good to race there and to find the rhythm again. The weekend after I did Hamburg and I was again fine. Now I'm feeling pretty stable with the condition. This period of the season is pretty important for me with a lot of one-day races."
The six-time Grand Tour stage winner headlines the Argos-Shimano team racing at Saturday's Brussels Cycling Classic and has ambitions at the GP Cycliste de Quebec (September 13) and Montreal (September 15).
Degenkolb won five stages of the Vuelta a Espana last season before a fourth place finish at the world championships, his second senior appearance, where Philippe Gilbert prevailed. Germany has qualified six riders for the September 29 elite men's road race that he hopes to start having seen the course during the Giro d'Italia.
"I have no 100 per cent nomination right now but I hope the German Federation will take me to Florence," Degenkolb said. "I think the Vuelta is good preparation for the worlds - like we saw last year - but these one-day races are also good. I still have the motivation to train between the races, and a good focus.
"Last year it was much easier - the climbs were much shorter - this year the first climb is almost four kilometres and then already it comes to the second, shorter, climb," he continued.
"You never know what can happen in a race like that and that's the reason I want to participate there because it's always good to just learn something for the next years. Last year nobody expected me to place fourth and I did it.
"I don't go with the goal or the intention that I want to win, and that I want to be the world champion, but you never know how the race will develop," he added. "Maybe it's a controlled race like the last few years then it's possible to have a sprint."
Germany has a clear leader for the men's time-trial, in reigning champion Tony Martin, but apparently not for the road race unlike Great Britain that is set to back Tour winner Chris Froome.
"I think in general the German team there is nobody able to go with the intention to win that race, for example, like the Italians," he said. "For sure [Vincenzo] Nibali the parcour suits him really well. I think there is not such a strong rider in our team so we will have some tactical meetings."
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