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Best sprints of 2012: Cav seeing new generation nipping at heels

  • By Andrew Hood
  • Published Dec. 26, 2012
  • Updated Dec. 28, 2012 at 8:35 AM EDT
John Degenkolb made a deafening statement at the Vuelta, but his consistency from March through September established him in sprinting's elite. jGW

3. John Degenkolb: Confirmation of raw talent

John Degenkolb was always nibbling at the edge of big-time success, with insiders at the former HTC-Highroad, where he won two stages at the 2011 Critérium du Dauphiné, singing his praises.

With a move to Argos-Shimano in 2012, he finally took a huge bite out of the peloton with no less than five stage wins at the Vuelta a España.

Which one was the best? Take your pick, because he won with cool confidence that defied his 23 years. His first, in stage 2 in Viana, was probably the most telling, because few were picking him to win.

Sky and Orica-GreenEdge were driving the final surge when Degenkolb exploded off the wheel to stab his bike across the line victoriously ahead of Allan Davis and Ben Swift.

Granted, the mountainous 2012 Vuelta, with no less than 10 summit finales, didn’t draw the deepest sprinters’ field, but Degenkolb made it over the climbs and picked up four more stage wins.

The young German ace bookended his season with fifth at Milan-San Remo (second in the field sprint) and fourth at Paris-Tours, revealing he has the chops to ride longer classics as well.

With Argos graduating to the WorldTour in 2013, Degenkolb looks to be just getting started. Team brass promise to share the wealth between Kittel and Degenkolb this season. Kittel is best when it’s long, fast and flat, while Degenkolb is more like an all-terrain vehicle, who can win in a variety of circumstances and conditions. Fourth at the worlds in Valkenburg, Degenkolb should just keep getting better with age.

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Andrew Hood

Andrew Hood

Andrew Hood cut his journalistic teeth at Colorado dailies before the web boom opened the door to European cycling in the mid-1990s. Hood has covered every Tour de France since 1996 and has been VeloNews' European correspondent since 2002.

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