Mads Pedersen grabs one more podium before leaving France

The on-form Dane takes 2nd in the final stage time trial in Etoile de Bessèges with Mollema, Tiberi finishing in the top 10

It has already been a good week for Trek-Segafredo at Etoile de Bessèges.  However, the Team was not quite finished tallying podiums with a final time trial still on offer.

The 10.6-kilometer race against the clock ended with a challenging 2.5km climb testing the specialists against the climbers.

In the end, World Champion Filippo Ganna prevailed, holding off a flurry of Trek-Segafredo riders that took to the start in rapid succession.  First, Bauke Mollema crossed the line 11 seconds off Ganna’s time before Mads Pedersen clocked a few seconds quicker.

Not one to miss out on the fun, Antonio Tiberi, coming off a superb third place in the queen Stage 4, was not far off his teammates’ pace and slotted into a provisional 5th place (+23”).

Then the three teammates had to endure a lesson in patience with the top of the GC, including teammate Toms Skujins, still to complete the ‘race of truth.’

The times held for Mads and Bauke until the final rider and overall leader Benjamin Thomas finished, knocking Mollema down one rung.  It could not, however, erase the smile from Bauke’s face.

“I am quite happy, I was already yesterday in the uphill finish, especially after not feeling great in the first days here,” said Bauke.

“This TT is nice; I did it twice already and knew that it was really important to not start too crazy with a hard four and half minute climb in the end.  I started okay, but not too crazy, and then gave everything on the last steep climb.  It has been a while to do a good result like this in a TT.

“Also, our new TT bike is nice,” added Mollema, “It’s more aero, so you just go faster with the same watts. I feel comfortable on the bike and the handling is really good with some of the roundabouts and the 180-degree corners today.  It’s my 4th TT now on this bike, and they have all been good results, so hopefully, more coming!”

Adding to his Stage 1 win and Stage 2 second place finish, Mads held onto the second-fastest time for a parcours typically not perfectly suited to his strengths.  However, right now there is seemingly little the red-hot Mads can’t take on, and he powered over the final steep climb to finish within six seconds of Ganna.

“In general, a good TT today,” said Mads. “I paced it really well on the flat part of the course and emptied the legs with a good 5-minute effort at the end! The climb was quite okay. Hard, but I had a good feeling.

“I’m surprised by the result today, but once again it shows I’m on the right path with my shape. So, now it’s time for a week easy at home, and then ready to race in Algarve!”

Antonio was overtaken by five riders, but held on for 10th, adding another strong performance to his 3rd place finish in the Queen stage.

Meanwhile, Toms Skujins’ who has been putting in a massive effort of support all week, was paid with a top 10 overall, securing 9th place GC after a solid effort in the time trial.

A solid five days, giving us plenty in the pockets to leave France with increased confidence and higher motivations.