How 3 weeks of misery can bring bliss

After suffering through the Tour de France, Mads Pedersen finds his mojo in Denmark

An uphill cobbled finish seemed custom-made for Mads Pedersen, and he made good on the opportunity as he powered to victory in Stage 2 at the Tour of Denmark. After he suffered through a tough Tour de France, riding through numerous crashes, the former world champion rebounded in his home country’s tour in the best way possible.

“Yeah, it’s not a secret that the Tour was pretty shit,” agreed Pedersen. “I was fighting through that to get another level for the rest of the season, and I think today shows it was worth it to go through all that in France. It’s just nice to win again, and on home roads, it’s even nicer.”

Photo ©Oliver Grenaa

Photo ©Oliver Grenaa

Pedersen maintained a top position in the final local lap, maintaining third wheel through the last tricky corners. He dropped back a little in the sprint and went he opened the throttle, none could match his power on the uphill cobbled finish.

The pure sprinters did not want to hit out too early for the uphill sprint, but Pedersen had opposite tactics. When the Dane flew by, it was too late. The top two finishers of Stage 1, Dylan Groenewegen and Giacomo Nizzolo, settled for the lower podium steps as the powerful Pedersen finished over a bike length ahead to claim a welcomed win.

“Yeah, long sprint,” admitted Pedersen. “One guy from Qhubeka came by on the right super fast, and it stretched out a little bit more. Something happened from Casper Pedersen (DSM), maybe with his gears, so I had to pass him, and then I didn’t want to slow down anymore since the sprint was already opened there.

“My plan was to overtake the sprinters and then go on the left, close to the barrier, so they would be in doubt to go on the left side of me and take a longer way around. Luckily it was enough to stay in the front.

“This is never an easy finish – uphill and a headwind – but I believed I could win. It was also a hard race today, and the last laps were really hard with Remco (Evenepoel) doing a crazy tempo for almost two and a half laps alone, pulling really really hard. It was just a hard day, and I know after a hard day like this, I can still do a good sprint.”

Photo ©Oliver Grenaa

Crosswinds created stress earlier in the day, but after a brief spell where the peloton split, calm returned, and the expected bunch sprint played out.

“The team did a really, really good job today. When it split in the crosswind, we were three guys there, and the moment the second group came back, the whole team was in the front within minutes. Just super-good work by the boys today,” added Pedersen.

“Jakob (Egholm) did some good pulling in the local lap, (Alexander) Kamp helped really well, and Julien (Bernard) also. Mattias (Skjelmose), (Matteo) Moschetti and Michel (Ries) – the whole team worked together; it’s nice to pay the guys back,” he continued praising each teammate. “In the first meeting we had yesterday, I said I am here to win. It’s nice to see that they suffered to help me do that.”

Photo ©Oliver Grenaa

I was so happy for him that I didn’t even realize that I got the white jersey myself!

Photo ©Oliver Grenaa

After two stages, Trek-Segafredo leads the teams classification, and Mattias Skjelmose took over the white jersey signifying the best young rider, just rewards for the selfless teamwork.

“Until the last lap, I tried to position Mads as best I could and put him just behind Jumbo-Visma,” explained Skjelmose. “On the downhill, I told him to go in front of me because I was already a bit on the limit. We these guys pushing watts, it was really difficult for a climber to stay there. And then it was just following from behind how Mads did a super job positioning himself and smashed everyone in the sprint, just destroyed them. This is really a special feeling; this is my first win ever with a team, I think.

“I was so happy for him that I didn’t even realize that I got the white jersey myself!” he added.

It was the young Dane’s first time riding his home tour, but despite his delight with white, he wasn’t even thinking about defending the jersey in the following days.

“It’s amazing; it wasn’t a goal itself. I thought maybe it could be a result after good riding all race, but to have it on the 2nd day is just super nice. I wouldn’t say the goal is to defend it; it should be a result of good teamwork and good riding. The main mission is still to keep Mads in the front. If it happens, it will be a nice bonus.”