Mads Pedersen, Daan Hoole finish 2-3 in time trial

Mads Pedersen increases overall lead in the Baloise Belgium Tour with two days remaining

Trek-Segafredo put the Speed Concepts to the test in the Stage 3 time trial at the Baloise Belgium Tour and came away with three riders in the top 10:  second for Mads Pedersen, third for Daan Hoole – who spent some good time in the hot seat – and eighth for Alex Kirsch.

If it wasn’t for a faster Yves Lampaert (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team) it would have been a dominant day for Trek-Segafredo. Lampaert spoiled Mads from taking his second win of the week, but the Dane, the final rider to start as race leader, was still more than satisfied with his ride.

“Actually, I am quite happy,” he said. “I knew there were a few fast guys here, and it’s never easy to win a time trial. To lose to Yves is quite okay; he’s a really strong guy, and normally he’s really good in time trials. I think I can be quite happy. It was a good preparation for the Tour (de France), and I am quite satisfied.”

Clad in a blue, Mads took to the 11.8-kilometer race of truth with a little more than a win on the line. It was also a perfect test ahead of the opening time trial in the Tour de France that starts in Copenhagen, a goal that supersedes all.

“I worked a lot on the TT bike, the position, the equipment, and so on, and this was the real first test on it,” explained Mads. “The only thing I could not test was the new speed suit, which I know is faster than the leader’s one I wore today. But the rest worked out quite well, and I think we’ve found a really fast setup now.”

An hour before Mads took to the road, his teammates Daan Hoole and Alex Kirsch were powering through the course. Daan flew over the finish, setting the fastest time, and moments later, Kirsch stopped the clock a few seconds off his pace.

Daan spent some quality time in the hot seat, dreaming of what could be his biggest win. It wasn’t until Lampaert, one of the final riders, that he ceded his time at the top.

“It’s a shame when you sit there for a while, and then you want to win, but I think in general, I can be happy with my performance,” said Daan. “I think I lost some time in some corners, but yeah, that’s a time trial – you always need to go as fast as possible, and if you lose time in corners, it’s also your own fault. It’s a shame, but in the end, I think [Lampaert] 10 seconds faster… Then yeah, you’re just better. There are some good riders, and if I can ride a top 5, in the end, I just have to be happy.”

Only one rider could topple Lampaert, and Mads was one-second off the pace at the intermediate time check.  But over the line the clock showed seven seconds slower for the Dane, who still managed to increase his lead in the GC.

Mads came into the day with a six-second buffer over second place and now sits 10 above Lampaert. Still, he knows that anything can happen in a challenging Stage 4 tomorrow.

Mads explained: “Tomorrow is a really tough day and expected to be hot, and normally I am struggling a lot in the heat. I survived the first day, which was quite warm, but I think tomorrow will be over 30 degrees (Celsius). It can be the end of my time in the leader’s jersey, but I have a first place, second place, and third in the race so far, and that’s not too bad. If I am popping tomorrow, it’s okay, but of course, I will do everything I can to stay in the leader’s jersey and do a really good race tomorrow.

“When you are in the leader’s jersey, you have to honor it and fight that extra bit to keep it, and I am planning to do that – I am going to fight to the finish line tomorrow, and we will see how it stands. It will be a tough day for everyone, for the whole bunch, and maybe I have a good day.”