There's nothing but love between Marcel Kittel and John Degenkolb

Team Giant-Alpecin sprinters Marcel Kittel and John Degenkolb insist there is no rivalry between the pair, just friendship and respect

Marcel Kittel and John Degenkolb watch anxiously as Germany play in the World Cup Football Final

(Image credit: Watson)

Two riders with similar objectives – often a scenario which leads to disharmony within a professional team, but a pair of Team Giant-Alpecin sprinters are not expecting friction any time soon.

In Marcel Kittel and John Degenkolb, Giant-Alpecin has a double act that has notched up 21 Grand Tour stage wins, including eight by Kittel at the Tour de France across the last two editions.

As recent history has shown, teams with two world-class sprinters can see a power struggle erupt with both leading men vying to race as the leader at the Tour.

André Greipel departed HTC-Columbia in 2011 after failing to oust the Manx Missile Mark Cavendish as the squad’s leading sprinter and has gone on to claim six Tour stage wins.

While last season, Nacer Bouhanni’s points classification win at the Giro d’Italia was not enough to win the heart of FDJ boss Marc Madiot, who preferred Arnaud Démare for the Tour, and Bouhanni moved to Cofidis for 2015.

But Degenkolb believes he and Kittel can coexist in Giant-Alpecin’s Tour squad, as the pair agree beforehand who will target the win on each stage.

“We decide when we see the parcours for the Tour,” he said at Giant-Alpecin’s team launch in Berlin.

“We sit down together and say ‘this is a stage for you and this could be a stage for me’. We have an open relationship, more or less like a friendship, and many things are much easier that way.”

Kittel cemented his place among the peloton’s best sprinters in 2014 with four Tour de France stage wins, including the stage one sprint in Harrogate.

Back-to-back wins on the Champs-Élysées marked the second time that the German sprinter has bookended his Tour with wins, but is more than happy to help his compatriot Degenkolb go for glory if the parcours is not to his liking.

“When you look at us as sprinters, we both have chances to win stages, but we can also be a benefit to each other,” he said.

“It would be silly for one of us to say they don’t want the other on the team. I know John, we are friends, he knows I am loyal to him and I know he’s loyal to me. There’s nothing I have to worry about.

“It’s important for me to know we have a plan where everyone is happy.”

Degenkolb’s two second-place finishes in the 2014 Tour de France show that the pair’s plan is working well, but it is in the one-day races that the younger of the duo excelled last year.

With a win at Gent-Wevelgem and second place at Paris-Roubaix, Degenkolb showed the peloton that he has more strings to his bow than flat-out sprinting.

“I don’t believe that I am able to beat Marcel or the really fast guys in a race that is not hard enough to make them suffer before the finish line,” he said.

“I can probably beat them if there is a hard race before, but if everyone is fresh then I’m not quick as the other guys. The good thing is that I’m just as quick after a classic as I am after an easy stage of the Tour.”

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