• Koen de Kort (L) and John Degenkolb (R) sit in third wheel at the Volta ao Algarve, (Getty)Source: Getty
Koen de Kort transferred to Trek-Segafredo effectively as entourage but is on a good way to making his own name outside of that as he rides for his fourth race in just two months.
Sophie Smith

Cycling Central
16 Feb 2017 - 3:44 PM  UPDATED 16 Feb 2017 - 3:49 PM

De Kort launched his Europe season at the Volta ao Algarve on Wednesday maybe in a stronger position than most having the Tour Down Under, Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race and, in an exceptionally tight turnaround, the Dubai Tour already in his legs.

The 34-year-old has followed John Degenkolb to Trek-Segafredo this year and doesn’t seem to mind the busy start through which he has already realised both his intent to work for but also separate to the German.

“I went to this team together with John but I don’t want to be the rider that went to this team because he is a mate of John’s,” de Kort said.

The duo has raced once together this season at the Dubai Tour where the Dutchman was valued not just for his expertise on the road and in lead-outs, but in his ability to motivate Degenkolb when he was unsure.

The latter marked his first victory of the season in the trying third stage of the dusty tour earlier this month, but not first without an encouraging word from loyal team player de Kort.

Change of course for Dubai Tour after dusty Degenkolb win
The queen stage of the Dubai Tour has been shortened in anticipation of desert storms that caused unrest in the peloton on Thursday.

“John needed a little bit of convincing for a while because he said he was really stuffed, he was really tired. But he’d been complaining the last couple of days [prior] that the stages were too easy, the sprinters were all too fresh, so I convinced him it was the kind of sprint that he wanted,” de Kort said.

“I came here with John because I can do something and it’s nice to be able to show that straight away as well. I think the team realises and appreciates what I do, get the team working together, and capping that off with a win already so early in the season feels really good.”

Degenkolb, who is also racing Algarve, has outwardly stated his ambition to claim a Monument in his first season with Trek-Segafredo, seemingly unperturbed with transitional adjustments that can influence.

The 28-year-old was denied the chance to defend his title at both Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix last year after he was badly injured in a January training camp accident involving a motorist.

The incident marred but did not destroy Degenkolb or his consequent five-month season that included top-five finishes in Tour de France stages, as well as a stage victory at the Arctic Tour of Norway and victory at Munsterland Giro.

“It was a very important season that showed me if you fight hard enough you can come back, you can find your shape again even if you have such a big disadvantage starting that late,” Degenkolb said.

“I still won races last year so that showed me it’s not easy but it’s possible to come back. I look back very positively on last year.

“But obviously, I’m more than motivated to come back into a good position in cycling [this year]. I’m really looking forward to receiving all the support also from the team. It’s great to be in a team like this. I’m feeling very happy.”