John Degenkolb from Oberursel has been a professional cyclist since 2011. His greatest successes were the victories at the cycling monuments Paris-Roubaix and Milan-Sanremo in 2015 and winning a stage of the tour in 2018. The 34-year-old family man is contesting his ninth Tour of France this summer.
It was a really tough first week on the tour. I really longed for the rest day on Monday. This time it all started right away with two difficult stages in the Basque Country, and after six stages we were already in the Tourmalet in the Pyrenees. A lot has happened in these nine days. Cavendish’s fall and retirement, for example, touched everyone deeply. I didn’t notice it myself during the race, the fall happened further down the field. I feel so sorry for him. I would have wished for a very different ending than him going home without his 35th stage win and the Tour record. Despite his 38 years, he still had the legs for this last victory.
The mood in our team is really good. Unfortunately, our captain Romain Bardet lost two positions in the overall classification on the Puy de Dome, his local mountain in Clermont-Ferrand, he is now tenth. The goal is a top ten in Paris, and there’s still a lot more to come. I had brought Romain to the climb of the Puy de Dome, the last descent was technically very demanding, I was able to guide him down through the corners with power, that worked well. And was not without. Among other things, a police motorcycle fell on the descent.
The last four kilometers are extremely steep. There were no spectators on them, which I thought was a bit of a shame, but I can also understand that there are strict regulations in this nature reserve, which is also a World Heritage Site. But then there were all the more spectators downstairs, it was crazy, an atmosphere that was in no way inferior to that in the Basque Country. And then you drive into this silence, that’s funny. You see a lonely police officer every few hundred meters. An absolutely stark contrast. After the race we more or less drove down the track in free fall to our buses, with a seventies cut, it was relatively relaxed without spectators.
Before falling asleep I watched the next stage from Tuesday again, I don’t know if that was good, it’s really hard right from the start. This is another stage where you don’t get a single meter for free. The Massif Central is one of the hardest terrains you can imagine, it goes up and down all the time on rolled chippings asphalt, on which you just can’t make any headway, but it’s also an incredibly beautiful area.
I haven’t felt super good in the last few days, but I hope that the day will come when my legs will open up. The rest day has often done me good. This time we cycled for an hour and a half and headed for Romain’s home and had a coffee with his family. It’s now the second week, and if the opportunity arises, I can go into a group and look for my chance, but my legs have to be right for that. Let’s see.
How were the two Pyrenees stages? real hard What the guys from Jumbo-Visma pulled off with their blatant team strength is enormous. When they get a command and drive off, it’s almost the end of the day for almost half of the field. On Thursday they dismantled everything that needed to be dismantled on the climb to the Tourmalet.