The former World Champ takes a third-straight second-place finish as Trek-Segafredo goes all-in for green
Four stages into La Vuelta a Espana and three consecutive 2nd places for Mads Pedersen have put him solidly into the fight for the green points jersey.
Finishing runner-up to Sam Bennett in the opening flat sprint stages was already impressive for the former World Champ going against, on paper, faster men, but Mads surprised everyone – and maybe even himself – with his third straight second place in a finish that suited the climbers.
But what’s scripted on paper in cycling is never written in stone, especially when you have a red-hot Mads Pedersen.
“I know I can do finales like this, and it’s tough in a quality peloton like this one, but if you never try, you never win. Today we tried, and we finished second, and again we got some points in the green jersey, so I think we are pretty happy with today’s result,” said Mads.
Stage 4 was far from straightforward. The finale included a seven-kilometer climb followed by a long descent and a one-kilometer steep kicker to the line.
To get Mads to the bottom of the finish climb Julien Bernard and Dario Cataldo picked up where they left off in Stage 2. First Julien, then Dario set a hard and steady pace for the first kilometers of the long climb. Then the climbers Kenny Elissonde and Juan Pedro Lopez assured Mads stayed near the front over the top and into the fast descent.
“The last climb was pretty tough,” admitted Mads. “The boys set a tempo at the bottom so I could survive the steep part. After that, we just wanted to cruise in with the peloton over the top.
“We had a big gear on for the downhill so we could really gain the speed and follow. Then we just hoped for the best for the last steep part to the finish.”
At the back and able to survive the climb was tall man Daan (Hoole), who came to the front in the final kilometers to lead Mads into the last steep uphill.
The final meters were up to Mads, and he was remarkable. Only Primoz Roglic – a pre-race GC favorite and probably the best uphill finisher in the pro peloton – was better.
“It was clear [Roglic] was the strongest, and to lose to him on a climb like this is okay. I hoped to do a top-10, so I am pretty happy with today’s result.”
To overtake fast sprinters for two stages and a day later do the same to some of the best uphill punchers in the peloton is impressive. And while finishing runner-up for three straight days may seem demoralizing, for Mads and the Team, it’s all serving a bigger purpose.
“My shape is good,” agreed Mads, “and we are really here to win this green jersey, and every day we are aiming to get points, and today we did it again. Thanks to the whole team – they were really impressive today.”
And when you have a red-hot Mads, a win is just a matter of time.