“Maybe this is a stage where I can finish at the top” – John Degenkolb looks at gravel stage in Tour de France

John Degenkolb is celebrating a special anniversary this week. The DSM-firmenich PostNL veteran is participating in the Tour de France for the tenth time – and hopes for a victory. After all, there are stages that – at least on paper – could suit him.

The 35-year-old German rode his first Tour all the way back in 2013. Then he almost took a stage, losing in a sprint alone to Peter Sagan in Albi. “I am happy, fortunate and proud to be tackling the tenth Grand Tour,” German Eurosport echoes Degenkolb’s words: “I am ready for the Tour.”

The ninth stage in particular, with start and finish in medieval Troyes, is entirely to his taste. The white, unpaved gravel roads of Champagne require a special type of rider, one for classics like Strade Bianche or Paris-Tours, one like Degenkolb. There will be 14 such sections, six of which are in the final part with a total length of 32 km.

“Who knows? In the past, such special stages were always exactly my thing,” said Degenkolb, who celebrated his only Tour stage victory so far in 2018 in Roubaix.

“Maybe this is a phase where I can end up at the top with my experience and skills.” On a good day with good legs, he will claim to “ride alone sometimes,” Degenkolb said. His role is actually different these days. Degenkolb, previously a stage chaser and contender for victory in the sprints, takes on a lot of responsibility as road captain and takes care of some of his less experienced teammates.