Pedersen sprints to the win in a tactical finale after great teamwork from Jasper Stuyven
Mads Pedersen sprinted to the win from a select leading group in the Tour de l’Eurométropole after superb teamwork and a great leadout from teammate Jasper Stuyven.
It was a tactical finale in a wet and chilly race, and with the combination of Stuyven and Pedersen in the leading group of 10, the best recipe for victory.
“Rain is okay for me, I am used to that in Denmark,” answered Pedersen when asked about the horrible conditions. “Yeah, the motivation was not super high in the beginning of the day, but I felt good legs, and Jasper did a really good job, and I needed to support him. And then it changed in the final.”
The race was not looking good for Trek-Segafredo in the first half with the rain wreaking havoc and a crash landing five of the team on the tarmac, including team leader Jasper Stuyven.
But it all changed after Trek-Segafredo put the team on the front in the final 30 kilometers to help bring back the breakaway and when Stuyven attacked with 20 kilometers to go.
“After 60kms I think five of the team went down, and I also went down pretty hard, so it took a while to chase back,” explained Stuyven. “At the end, we decided to help FDJ to control the race and bring back the leaders, and then in the final, I attacked. It was a good group, but I was suffering quite a lot from my crash, and I didn’t feel super fresh anymore. And then Mads came from the back; from then on I tried to help him because he was really strong.”
The peloton was never far behind the leaders, and when it looked like they would be caught with eight kilometers remaining, Pedersen exploded out of the bunch.
“I was there with good legs, and the [leading] group was quite close, so I thought if I could jump and help Jasper to keep the group away it would be perfect,” said Pedersen. “And then I came, and I saw Jasper had made a gap to the other four guys in the front.”
Pedersen flew by the fragmented leaders like they were standing still and quickly caught up to Stuyven, who was alone in the front.
But two Trek-Segafredo riders in the lead caused an immediate reaction behind, and three riders quickly bridged, while more attacks flew out of the bunch. A tired Stuyven fell off the pace as Pedersen continued ahead as a new leading group formed.
“Steven (de Jongh, sport director) was fast on the radio to say that Jasper was chasing it back and then we just supported each other in the final. It was about who had the legs in the last kilometers,” recounted Pedersen.
Stuyven made it back to the leading group with four kilometers to go and the bunch not far behind. He then went to work and threw everything he had into helping Pedersen, knowing who had the better legs at that point.
“With two kilometers to go (Tiesj) Benoot attacked, and I went behind, and I saw that they didn’t immediately follow so that was good for Mads as he could just stay in their wheels,” explained Stuyven. “When they came back, I just kept pulling and pulling. I was a little bit on the limit, but I knew that if I could continue until 250 (meters to go) it would be really good and then Mads just did a great sprint.”
Benoot’s attack would have been successful but for Stuyven, who dug deep for his teammate.
“Jasper was impressive… that was really nice,” said Pedersen, heaping praise on Stuyven.
Stuyven pulled full gas, drawing back Benoot while giving a leadout for Pedersen, who jumped past the Lotto Soudal rider in the last meters to take the win.
“It didn’t look good at the one moment when we were all on the floor and with the weather,” said Stuyven, “so it was really good that we took responsibility and just went for it, and then still win. It was a nice victory.”
With Stuyven taking wins in the GP Wallonie and GP Jef Scherens and Pedersen the Tour de l’Eurométropole, it has been a good run so far for Trek-Segafredo in the fall classics. Stuyven and Pedersen both line up again Sunday for the GP d’Isbergues and will hope to add to Trek-Segafredo’s tally.
“The spring was really good for me,” added Pedersen, who finished second in the Tour of Flanders, “and then I had some bad luck in the BinckBank Tour and in the past few weeks, but now it is looking like a good late season.”