Against all odds Mads Pedersen snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in Hamburg
Straight off the back of a double victory at the Tour of Denmark, Mads Pedersen made the journey down to Hamburg for the Bemer Cyclassic. With five days of aggressive racing in the legs and no time for a massage, he was bound to feel some fatigue. Even so, in the pre-race team meeting the Lidl-Trek riders and DS Kim Andersen discussed how they would put the pressure on the pure sprinters on the climbs, rather than sit in for the sprint. A small, easily manageable break went up the road and was allowed up to nine minutes lead before the sprint teams assigned a domesqtique to start pulling. Back racing after a five month hiatus was Lidl-Trek’s Dario Cataldo, having recovered from a serious crash sustained at the Volta a Catalunya in March.
At the final circuit, each lap teams without a pure sprinter tried to apply pressure on the climb. On the last lap, the fatigue was evident on the body language of Mads Pedersen. He churned a heavy gear, rocking from side to side as he willed himself over the last meters of the climb, all the while sliding backwards as the peloton exploded. The Lidl-Trek boys regrouped, and winched in group after group until only three riders remained ahead.
The trio remained out front inside the final kilometer, and hope was evaporating for the peloton. Out of nowhere, Mads Pedersen launched a signature ‘Mads’ move to bridge across to the leaders, then powering all the way to the line. Mads crossed the line first, meters ahead of the charging field and not fully believing he had pulled it off.
“I was really on the limit on the last climb and I was going backwards. The guys did a great job to keep pulling me from one group to another as long as they could, to put me in a good position in view of the final.
Bora actually played the strategy very well with Politt in the front group and two riders slowing down the chase at the head of the peloton. I thought ‘shit, if they do like this at 1K to go we’re not gonna catch them’. With a bit less than 1km to go we had a slight right, left. I decided to attack and try to get across, in the worst case I’ll pop and get nothing. But the other solution was to sprint for fourth and I don’t know if I would have been the fastest sprinter today. I gambled and hoped for the best and luckily it was enough. The whole peloton came super close in the end. Anyway, it was enough to keep them behind.
I just went and hoped for the best like the TT yesterday. At the finish Danny van Poppel came really fast with much more speed, so five meters after the finish line he was already two bike lengths ahead of me. I was 99% sure I had won, so I celebrated like a win. On TV it looks good, right?
I started to feel the legs, it’s a long season now and until now it’s been hard and I can feel it. Luckily there’s still some gas in the tank and now we go onto Germany and take it from there.”