The Former World Champion continues to prove his sprinting prowess with a 3rd place in Paris-Nice opener.
It was a chilly, albeit sunny, first stage of La Course au Soleil. After the roll out from Saint-Cyr-l’École one brave soul took off alone and formed the breakaway of the day. Our feisty Frenchman Julien Bernard rolled his sleeves up and got to work to help control the lonely breakaway with the help of a couple of other familiar faces. However, with just one rider up the road and many sprint-focussed teams hungry for success, a bunch kick was inevitable.
The lure of bonus seconds at the second intermediate sprint set the finale in motion with 17.5km to go. Edward Theuns joined an ambitious move trying to outrun the peloton, but it was an impossible task against so many determined sprint teams. Our conductor, Alex Kirsch, got the lead-out train in order for Mads Pedersen and the Trek-Segafredo boys looked like a well-oiled machine heading into the finish.
Jasper Stuyven had the tricky job of last man, meaning he had to guide Pedersen to the perfect position for him to launch his sprint. The pair navigated the final roads well together, although they had to fight to maintain position near the front. Pedersen powered up the final ramp but had to hold back as he was boxed in and couldn’t find a gap to come past Arnaud Démare and winner Sam Bennett. However, with another display of sprinting class, Pedersen is carving a name for himself as a sprint favorite whatever the conditions.