After missing his big goal in the Grand Depart, Mads finds his moment in Stage 13 of the Tour de France
Mads Pedersen can add a Tour de France stage to his palmares. The former World Champion had to wait well past his target goal, the Grand Depart in Denmark, to find victory and it happened in Stage 13 – a hot and hilly day that went to the breakaway – as he sprinted to a huge win for Trek-Segafredo.
“It’s incredible to finally take a win. I knew the shape was pretty good but it the last two weeks there were not a lot of chances for a guy like me, so to take the chance today and get rewarded… It’s really nice, not only for me, for the whole team,” said Pedersen. “I don’t think I have realized yet what I have done. It’s a nice milestone and I am happy with this but of course I want more. I hope this is just the beginning.
“It was about finding the good legs again. Denmark didn’t go 100% as planned, I was not disappointed with 6th in the time trial and then 3rd the next day, so it was not that bad, but of course we came for more.
“And when half the team was sick and so on, it was a bit of a gamble the last few days, and today it paid off for the whole team. We came here with the whole team only looking for stages and now we have one. It’s a big relief for everyone.”
How it happened
Pedersen weathered almost 10 days and back-to-back grueling mountain stages to get to his race, a hilly Stage 13 that could go the way of a breakaway or to the sprinters depending on what unfolded during the 192 kilometers.
When Mads Pedersen and Quinn Simmons joined the breakaway with five other strong riders there was little doubt that it was going to be touch and go.
If it was more than four guys then I should be in the break because we didn’t know how the other teams would ride the last climb with 45 kilometers to go. And for a long time I thought it was a mistake to be in the break when we only had two minutes.
- Mads Pedersen
The gap hovered between 90 seconds and two minutes for most of the stage, increasing to a maximum 3 minutes and 30 seconds after the Côte de Saint-Romain-en-Gal with 45 kilometers to go.
Simmons put in a massive effort to keep the breakaway ahead before he lost contact on the climb, leaving Pedersen to work with his breakaway companions, all five motivated, and all capable in bringing the group to the finish.
While Lotto Soudal and a few other teams kept the break on a short lead for a big part of the race, it was Team BikeExchange that came to the front with determination in the last 43 kilometers. But they were dealing with five strong men out front, each one seeking his first Tour win.
At 15 kilometers from the end, the gap stood at 2 minutes and 18 seconds. Advantage: breakaway.
A few kilometers later, BikeExchange waved the white towel. The breakaway had the green light and the gap ballooned. And, on paper, if it came to a sprint, Mads was the man.
But Pedersen didn’t wait.
With 10k to go I didn’t want to be at the finish with six riders as it would be too many guys to control. So I tried to attack and luckily it split up the break and we were only three guys and that made it a lot easier to control for me. From 10 to 5k, I just wanted to make the gap as big as possible so that we had time to slow down and gamble a bit in the last few hundred meters.
- Mads Pedersen
Mads’ attack split the group. Hugo Houle (Israel Premier Tech) and Fred Wright (Bahrain Victorious) went with the Trek-Segafredo rider, while the seemingly bigger threats, Filippo Ganna (Ineos) and Stefan Kung (Groupama FDJ) could not react.
The race was now down to three. The odds had increased immensely for Pedersen.
“It was a big relief to get rid of Ganna and Kung on the last climb – they were the last two guys I wanted to bring in in the last kilometers because when they go it can be really hard to catch them,” said Pedersen.
Houle and Wright tried a few digs in the final kilometers, but Pedersen responded easily. And in the three-up sprint there was no contest – Mads jumped and opened up a few bike lengths. He even had time to look back before he threw his arms in the air.
A colossal win. His first Tour de France victory.
“It didn’t happen in Denmark and after that it was only looking forward and especially today it was the big option. Jasper (Stuyven) would have gotten a tattoo of a donkey it I had won the yellow jersey in Copenhagen. But it didn’t happen, he was lucky this time. Maybe we should have made a new bet,” smiled Pedersen.