2021 Tour of Flanders (De Ronde van Vlaanderen)

John Degenkolb Taking Experience Into Cobbled Classics

John Degenkolb Taking Experience Into Cobbled Classics

John Degenkolb says his experience counts against the new generation of stars including Mathieu van der Poel and Wout Van Aert.

Feb 15, 2021 by Gregor Brown
Degenkolb Banks On Cobble Experience

John Degenkolb (Lotto-Soudal) says that experience can help him win a cobbled classic against the new, young generation of stars including Mathieu Van Der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) and Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma).

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The 32-year-old German's 2021 season is already well underway with two stage races, Etoile de Bessèges and Tour de la Provence under his belt. Degenkolb showed some sprinting form in Provence with a fifth place finish on Stage 4. His teammates Tim Wellens and Philippe Gilbert will race Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on February 27 and Degenkolb will begin his cobbled campaign with Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne the day after.

"Paris-Roubaix is the big goal, and I think it's a win for me, it will be the biggest dream to repeat a victory in that in that race," Degenkolb said. He won in 2015.

Degenkolb was once one of the young stars when he first debuted with HTC-Highroad in 2011. Now, he is one of the older ones and like many, is faced with a new generation - including van der Poel and Van Aert - that he will need to overcome to win more classics.

"It's, never easy, it's never going to be easy. And when you look back to most of the other races, you can also see that it's, not that they share all the races with each other and in some kind of ways they are beatable. 

"Of course, no doubt, if we have to ride head to head then of course, Mathieu or even Wout, they are on a different level. But it's not a time trial, it's a lot about experience, it's a lot about tactics, and I'm very confident that yes, there's a way to get very good results."

His schedule will include the Paris-Nice stage race as preparation for the bigger one-day classics like the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.

"I think it's very nice to look at what what happened in most of the races last year and I'm not afraid to race against all these young guys. And now one of the oldest guys in the peloton," he continued.

"You know, I still remember when I began in 2011, which is more than 10 years ago now. But during that time, I also much coolness. And I shouldn't be afraid. And I am definitely not afraid to measure myself against the young guys in the peloton."