John Degenkolb happy with Ghent-Wevelgem win after San Remo disappointment

German strongman sprinter John Degenkolb now has Tour of Flanders in his sights

John Degenkolb wins the 2014 Ghent-Wevelgem
(Image credit: Watson)

German John Degenkolb's emotions came out today after winning Ghent-Wevelgem. He expressed his disappointment in Milan-San Remo and his joy in sprinting ahead of the field in the small Flemish city of Wevelgem.

"I lived through the most disappointing day of my cycling career last Sunday in San Remo," Degenkolb said in a press conference. "Everything went 100 per cent better for me today. I am very happy to win this race."

The 25-year-old added of team Giant-Shimano added Ghent-Wevelgem to his list of one-day races including Paris-Tours and Vattenfall Cyclassics. It is not a monument, but one of the big cobbled classics and one that even Cavendish has yet to add to his palmarès.

Degenkolb adds his name to a list that includes Tom Boonen, Oscar Freire and Eddy Merckx. Peter Sagan won last year and today lost out in the sprint and placed third. Arnaud Démare finished second.

Sagan and Cavendish sprinted for the win in Sanremo last week. Degenkolb climbs just as strongly if not better. He should have been in the sprint but puncture ahead of the Poggio climb spoilt his dream.

"It's been a long time since I was sitting on the bike and tears came out of my eyes. That was such a big disappointment," Degenkolb explained. He turned emotional when recalling Milan-Sanremo seven days later.

"The next two or three days after that was a bitter pill to swallow. You prepare the whole winter for that one race, and you know you have the legs to be there, that you're strong enough, then something like that happens in the end, that is not your decision."

The friendly German and former policeman showed his strength two days ago by making the final group over the Oude Kwaremont in E3 Harelbeke. Only Sagan's attack on the next climb eliminated him from the group with two Omega Pharma riders and Sky's Geraint Thomas.

He sought revenge in Ghent-Wevelgem, 233 kilometres from Deinze in Ghent's outskirts and through the battlefields of World War 1 to reach Wevelgem. He survived the Kemmelberg climb, the crashes that eliminated André Greipel, Ian Stannard and others, and led a group of 79 riders over the line.

"The final was very hectic. There was a big crash with eight kilometres to go, when Tyler Farrar and André Greipel were there," Degenkolb explained. "I just saw Farrar lying there, with his hands protecting his head. I was lucky not to crash. Koen de Kort dropped me on Sagan's wheel for the sprint."

Degenkolb did the rest. He intends to be at the front again in the Belgium's biggest cobbled classic next Sunday, the Tour of Flanders.

"You cannot compare today to Flanders, [which is a] hard race and a difficult finish. The favourites are Sagan, Cancellara, Boonen," he said. "I'm going to go 100 per cent on Sunday. It's the Ronde, it's one of the biggest races in the world."

Credit: Nick Bull

André Greipel suffers suspected broken collarbone at Ghent-Wevelgem

The pre-race favourite crashed heavily with eight kilometres remaining.

John Degenkolb takes Ghent-Wevelgem victory

German sprinter John Degenkolb survives the bergs and crashes to win in Belgium

Thank you for reading 10 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Gregor Brown

Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.