Playing off good legs and instinct, Mads Pedersen joins breakaway and takes over points lead in La Vuelta Stage 8
A weekend of mountains at La Vuelta did not stop Mads Pedersen from taking the lead in the green points jersey. There was one intermediate sprint on offer during the 153-kilometer Stage 8, but five KOM climbs and 127 kilometers to tackle ahead of it. To earn the points was going to take a massive effort. So it was not on Mads’ radar to try. At least not pre-race.
As expected, it was a high-octane start. The first climb came within the first few kilometers, not a fun intro for those that dislike fast uphills.
“It was not really the plan this morning. You know it’s always a pain in the ass for a guy like me to start the day with an uphill, but luckily the legs were good today and I managed to be in the first group over the top,” explained Mads. “Then the guys started to try and make a break on the downhill, and at one point it started to flatten out, and I jumped with a few other guys.”
Ten riders moved up the road – and Mads was there. All but one had hopes of vying for the stage win. “No way I could do a stage result today. The only reason to go in the break was to get the 20 points and get the jersey,” continued Mads.
Mads had his eye on green. He rolled through in the leading group, not missing any turns – taking more pulls than maybe he even needed to – in order to help keep the breakaway ahead.
“It wasn’t easy!” he admitted. “They went really fast on the climbs and I had to put in a high pace today.”
And when the intermediate sprint finally arrived, no one objected to letting Mads roll across first and take the maximum 20 points. Mads explained: “It’s a general respect for each other: Like I also don’t try to sprint on the top of climbs for the mountain points, which doesn’t make sense for me, they also don’t need the sprint points. And even if they made an asshole move to try, they know I would still win the sprint, so it’s easier just to give them to me,” he smiled.
Job done, Mads eased off the group at the bottom of the final climb. Without the stress of making time cut, he had the liberty to take a very easy pace to the finish.
“To be honest the final climb was not as hard as it looked. It had a lot of flatter parts. And when you start the bottom, 12k to go, with the peloton, you can really take it easy on the uphill. I was able to save some energy on the last climb,” agreed Mads.
It was a savvy way to get 20 points and wrestle the green jersey from Sam Bennett who has worn it since Stage 2. But the question many had: at what cost?
“My plan was to finish today with not too much work, but then I managed to be in the front group on the first climb and the break started to go and I thought, okay, why not try to be in it since I was in the first group at the top of the first climb. I don’t think I spent a lot more energy being in the break than sitting in the tail of the peloton, so I think it was a good way of getting 20 points today,” answered Mads.
Eight stages into the three-week Grand Tour and the battle for green is beginning to heat up. Bennett, the faster in sprints, has two stage wins, but Mads has shown to be better on hilly days.
“It’s nice [to have green] but I am only 5 points ahead and the race is still long, so we keep fighting to get more. We will take it day by day, but for sure tomorrow it’s definitely not going to me in the front as it’s not possible to get any so for the next two days you will not see a lot of me,” said Mads.
“I am here to get the green and a stage win – the goal now is to get a stage win since if I aim for the win, the jersey should be more possible to have in Madrid also,” he ended.