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'It would be a lifetime goal to win Flanders and the World Championships'

John Degenkolb talks wins, hopes for the coming season and the launch of Trek-Segafredo's women's team. Photos: Peter Stuart

'It would be a lifetime goal to win Flanders and the World Championships, which are two races that are missing when it comes to the one-day races,' John Degenkolb tells Cyclist over the noise of the Rouleur Classic show where the men's and women's Trek-Segafredo kit for 2019 is being unveiled.

'If I can wish one dream then that’s definitely the one that I would pick,' he says of achieving that particular double in one season.

He's gained similar results before, noteably in 2015 when he was first across the line at both Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix. What should have been the beginning of a golden era in the German's career was thrown into disarray by the actions of a motorist.

Degenkolb and his teammates at Giant-Alpecin, his team at the time, were hit head-on while on a training ride in January 2016, an incident he has been fighting to overcome ever since.

He marked his comeback to form this summer with victory on Stage 9 of the Tour de France, the cobbled stage to Roubaix.

'It was definitely even more emotional,' Degenkolb says when comparing his stage win in Roubaix to his Monument victory there three years before.

'It’s been a tough time I’ve been through and it really released so much pressure, like tons of pressure fell off my shoulders.'

Despite his ability on the cobbles and his determination to take the win on that July day, no rider can ever go into a race and be completely sure of victory.

'You never know if 100% you can win but I knew that I had a decent chance, a really good chance and if everything goes in my favour which is also very important,' he recalls.

'It was really good to take the initiative and be up there in the break and be up in the front.'

When the stage reached its finish town, Degenkolb was in a group of three with a healthy lead over the chasing pack made up of stage hopefuls and GC contenders.

With Greg Van Avermaet and Yves Lampaert alongside him, it was a stellar trio, but Degenkolb had the confidence to lead from the front and take the sprint.

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The win means he is once again a rider to watch at the top of the WorldTour, but Degenkolb knows his place in a team that boasts a number of strong riders.

'In the Classics, I’m not the sole leader, for sure,' he says without sign of resignation at this situation.

'We have Jasper Stuyven and also Mads Pedersen, he was second in Flanders this year, so we have super-strong riders. We will ride and race as a team and that will give us a massive advantage compared to the other teams if we ride together.'

As he continues to look ahead to the 2019 season, the World Championships road race in Yorkshire becomes the topic of conversation once more.

For a punchy Classics rider, the tough roads in the north of England could be just right for a tilt at the rainbow jersey, something the German is particularly aware of.

'Yorkshire is definitely a better opportunity than Innsbruck was,' he laughs, recalling the 28% climb riders were sent up towards the end of this year's race in Austria.

'I really hope that the parcours suits me well, but I haven’t looked in detail. I think the final circuit there is pretty good for me, but I don’t know how hard the climbs are in the beginning.'

Beyond all the talk about Degenkolb's wins and hopes for the coming season, his presence in London is for something that should have a much longer lasting impact on the sport of cycling.

From 2019 Trek-Segafredo will be home to a women's team as well as the existing men's squad. It will be headed up by British rider and former World Champion Lizzie Deignan, who will return to competition next summer after recently giving birth to her first child. Like her teammate Degenkolb, she will be aiming for glory at the World Championships, which for her is a home race that takes in many of her past training roads.

With the outfit expanded into the Women's WorldTour, Degenkolb can see the advantage of such a move for his team.

'You can learn from both sides, you know,' he says of the men's and women's teams collaborating and sharing resources.

'It’s really nice for the atmosphere, and also some guys behave better if there are some women around, so it’s definitely a good move.'