John Degenkolb says his Roubaix stage win at the Tour de France “was the most emotional victory of his career.”
The 29-year-old rode to a memorable win on the cobbles of stage nine, drawing a line under a difficult few years for him.
Speaking at the launch of the new Trek-Segafredo kit, held at the Rouleur Classic in central London, the German told Cycling Weekly: “It was definitely the most emotional victory of my whole career.
“Winning such a big stage after a long time with a lot of struggling, it was a great reward for all the fights I had to go through.
“It was definitely super tough and I was heading from one setback to the next and I always kept believing in myself and kept standing up and just getting into the next challenge.
“It was definitely turning the page and closing the case.”
After building up a glowing palmarès – including two Monument titles and stage wins in all three Grand Tours – Degenkolb’s record has been sparse in recent years.
After winning both Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix in 2015, Degenkolb was involved in a horrific training crash while riding with Giant-Alpecin team-mates in January 2016.
The German and five team-mates were hospitalised after being hit by a car in Calpe, Spain.
Degenkolb suffered injuries to his thigh, forearm, lip and nearly severed a finger in the crash.
Since that awful incident and amidst the switch from Giant-Alpecin to Trek-Segafredo in 2017, Degenkolb has fought to return to former highs.
The sprinter hadn’t won a race at the top tier since the final stage Vuelta a España in 2015, until stage nine of this year’s Tour de France.
In a day defined by the chaos, Degenkolb fought over the legendary cobbles on the road to Roubaix to the win.
After breaking away with 20km left to ride, the German out-sprinted Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) and Quick-Step Floors’ Yves Lampaert in the final to end his run of misfortune.
Now Degenkolb hopes he can look to future victories at the highest level.
“I would try to win bigger races next year again and I’m really looking forward to starting next season,” he said.
“It’s a good sign to be already two weeks into the off-season, motivated to go on the bike again and I’m really looking forward to getting the training started soon.”
When considering his palmarès, there are two huge races Degenkolb notices are missing: “There are two races that are definitely lifetime goals – the World Championships and the Tour of Flanders. These two races I haven’t won yet and it would be an amazing dream.
“We will see. I haven’t looked so much in detail at the parcours in Yorkshire.
“Definitely the first goal is the Classics season in January.”