Dane takes second in Stage 2 Etoile de Bessèges slugfest
It was almost a repeat of yesterday’s win, albeit with a significantly tougher final climb. Mads Pedersen lit the fuse early but was edged out by Bryan Coquard on the punishing ramp to Rousson.
The Trek-Segafredo team got to work early, proudly riding at the head of the peloton for much of the second stage to keep the day’s four-man breakaway in check. There was never a real danger, and the escapees were reeled in early before a fast run in to the finish.
Mads explained, “Of course it was up to us to start pulling straight away. Filippo [Baroncini] and Antonio [Tiberi] did a really good job keeping the breakaway on a tight leash and didn’t give them too much tome. Other teams came later to help us. We started speeding up after 100kms and started to catch the breakaway. There was a climb about 35kms to finish where the whole peloton was going faster and faster. Filippo and Antonio ended their job there, pretty impressive how they were riding the whole day. After that Bauke [Mollema] and Tony [Gallopin] took over, really nice work to keep us out of trouble and in the front.”
Heading into the final, Pedersen had expert pilot Alex Kirsch to guide him into position. “Of course, the last 10kms were on hectic roads but Alex did a great job to keep me out of any problems and I really trust him. It’s still not easy, but riding behind him makes it a hell of a lot easier,” said Mads.
Stage 2’s finish didn’t perfectly suit Pedersen on paper, but the former World Champion has been climbing incredibly well thanks to excellent early season form.
The chips went down early, and Pedersen had to respond. The Dane accelerated on the steep climb and few could match his power. Bryan Coquard reached his hip, and for a while they were equally matched, but eventually the fatigue set in and the Frenchman edged ahead.
“Alex did a really impressive job on the climb to keep us moving as long as possible at a hard pace. When Alex popped it was a bit too early to go but on the other hand I didn’t want to slow down so I had to go. Not full, but almost. At the end it turned out to be 100 meters too early for me. Overall, very impressive work from the boys today, of course I would like to give them a victory but second place is quite nice on a finish like that. Shape is good, we are happy with another good result!”