Pedersen, Nibali and Mollema debut 2021 campaign in French stage race
Five stages, five chances.
We’re pumped to start racing again at the 51st Etoile de Bessèges where we will join nine other World Teams to get our 2021 season underway. The recent postponement of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana has forced Trek-Segafredo management to shuffle its hand, but with some strong cards to play, we’re ready to go all in.
The trio of Mads Pedersen, Vincenzo Nibali and Bauke Mollema will all be present in Bessèges to begin their racing seasons. While there are no big mountains to climb, the peloton will encounter some lumps in the five days of racing.
Stage 1 will be fought out in an uphill sprint. Stages 2 and 3 roll up and down all day before expected bunch sprints, while Stage 4 culminates atop a one-kilometer ascent, which will be climbed with furor. For Stage 5 our team will board their Speed Concepts for an 11-kilometer race against the clock.
The desire to return to racing is great, despite this sudden change in schedule making the debut more turbulent than expected. Unfortunately, we are still living in a precarious situation and we have to put that into consideration. We just hope that the situation turns for the better in the coming weeks and months.
- Vincenzo Nibali
Of course, the French stage race will be used as preparation for our upcoming major targets – the Classics and Giro d’Italia – but that doesn’t mean that the desire to win is missing. Many riders have taken a shift in perspective after racing through the topsy-turvy 2020 season.
“Every race will have its importance, every day will be lived with the focus on the present and not necessarily on what will be [in the future]. I want to race with my mind free of future expectations, driven by that healthy competitive edge that motivates me to bring out the best,” said Nibali.
Every race could be the last one. Now, going into all races, I’m motivated 100 percent to win. It doesn’t matter if it’s Flanders or whatever it is, I’m here to win.
- Mads Pedersen
With less than a month until Opening Weekend, the first Classics of the season, Pedersen will be ready to see how the winter training translates in the races. His compatriot Mattias Skjelmose, now a fully-fledged member of Trek-Segafredo, will make his debut as a WorldTour professional at Bessèges.
Vincenzo Nibali is a rider with an enviable palmarès, but he’s never ridden Etoile de Bessèges before. At 36 years old, the four-time Grand Tour winner is taking a different approach to the season ahead of him.
“On my debut, I’ve always approached the season with a few well-defined goals set on the calendar, but this year I’ve chosen to change it,” explained Nibali. “The Giro, Tour and the Olympics are obviously events that I want to attend at my highest level, but the road that will take me there will not only be used as a path of growth in condition.
“I don’t think I have anything to prove, even though the 2020 season was definitely below expectations. But this doesn’t mean that I don’t want to show that I can still have my say, that I can still compete at a great level. In order to do so, I decided to change my approach to the season, with a more intense winter. It’s a substantial change from my habits, but I felt I had to do it,” he added.
For many, it will be strange to see the racing season begin in Europe. We’re used to either staying up late at night to watch the Tour Down Under, hoping to be in warmer climes, or anxiously checking the results first thing in the morning. Regardless of location, we’re just thrilled to be able to be racing again.
Trek-Segafredo line-up for Etoile de Bessèges
Feb. 3-7, 2021
- Alex Kirsch (LUX)
- Bauke Mollema (NED)
- Ryan Mullen (IRE)
- Vincenzo Nibali (ITA)
- Mads Pedersen (DEN)
- Mattias Skjelmose (DEN)
- Edward Theuns (BEL)
- Kim Andersen (DEN)
- Grégory Rast (SUI)