Giant-Alpecin frontman John Degenkolb has raced less than 10 days this season but is determined to make Tour de France selection in what is a contract year for the champion sprinter linked to Trek-Segafredo for 2017.
Up until last month, the 27-year-old was sidelined from competition following a horrific January team training camp crash with a motorist, which he is still handicapped from.
Misfortune has not appeared to impact Degenkolb’s market value. He has solicited interest from multiple teams including current stable Giant-Alpecin, whom he rose to prominence with.
“Nothing is decided yet and we still are in talks, but also talks in my current team. I have to say I’m not unhappy in this team here so still everything is possible,” Degenkolb told Cycling Weekly.
Giant-Alpecin set an uncompromising selection standard last year when it opted not to take its marquee sprinter Marcel Kittel to the race. The eight-time Tour stage winner, whose season was heavily disrupted due to a virus, had missed less racing then than Degenkolb has now.
Degenkolb was recently named on a Tour team long-list and has said selection is not yet off the table as he continues his comeback at the Critérium du Dauphiné.
“Absolutely I want to go to the Tour,” he said. “It was, from the accident, my goal to come back to the Tour and hopefully win a stage there.”
Degenkolb said he has spoken to team management about competing at the race, which would serve as his third this season after the Tour of California and the Dauphiné.
“We have had conversations about this and they’ve given me the signal that they’re also willing to take me to the Tour,” he said. “We’re still trying to stick to the plan and I hope that there’s no change to the Tour. The plan was to go for sprint stages in the Tour and so far everything looks fine from my side, and I hope also from the team’s side.”
The former Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix champion has been improving at the Dauphine and finished eighth in a bunch sprint at the end of stage four on Thursday, which Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) won.
“I feel I’m not on the highest level to compete on WorldTour 100 per cent so it’s just a matter of patience. We have to stay calm now and wait. This week will be really important to go towards the Tour de France, and then we will see,” he said.
“When you see from how many race days I have now, I mean, I have 10 race days in my legs and the others have minimum 40. There’s a big difference and you can also feel that.
“The level is pretty high here this week, much more than I expected actually. Everybody wants to go to the Tour so that’s why. The difference between California and here is pretty huge, the ground speed is just much higher on the climbs.”
Watch: John Degenkolb’s Tour de France bike
The German almost completely severed his left index finger in the January crash and is still wearing a brace as the bone heals.
“I have no pain, it’s just a different way of handling the bike,” he said. “I’m only using four fingers basically to hold my handlebar, to pull on the handlebar, to pull in the sprint and that’s the difference. The process to adapt new skills is not finished.”