The tears came right after the finish. Maybe his eyes were already filled with tears when he crossed that finish line in Sanremo. Tears of relief, tears of joy, tears of true happiness. That is the explanation that John Degenkolb gave for his tears after he won Milano-Sanremo in 2015. He was relieved to win his first monument in cycling. There was a big smile for his teammates, because they worked the whole day for him. There were also tears of happiness, because his wife gave birth to a son earlier that year.
Having a baby can change a life. Certainly, it gave Degenkolb more strength and power, but I believe that it is not the main reason of his win. The proof lays in the answers he gave in the many interviews after the finish. He stated that to have a chance of winning Milan-San Remo you have to save your legs. Save your legs as long as possible. Also, he said that the clue is to stay clear of the front all day and to never be in the back. One crash of one rider before you and you are not in a winning position anymore. Hide in the middle of the peloton and make yourself as small as possible. It is like you are not even there. And in the end you have to sprint like you never did before. But until that moment comes, save your legs.
Some great advice from Degenkolb. Still, the most important reason of his win is experience. It took him four years to get to know the roads of Milan-San Remo. He had to get to know every corner from the inside out, feel every bump in the road, hear the Italian people scream of excitement. Because in the end, you have to do it yourself. And in the back of your mind there are the memories, the disappointments and the experiences of the past years. Those must have gone through his mind. Before he knew it, big tears were rolling down his cheek. All the feelings of the past years, of the past weeks, of the past hours made their way out. A crying man in Italy. Crying tears of happiness.
© Ansa/Claudio Peri (source: http://www.steephill.tv/rcs)