Mads Pedersen powers to his second win in a thrilling finish at Circuit Cycliste Sarthe
It couldn’t get any closer. The last man of the breakaway was caught at the flame rouge. Then a succeeding counterattack got a significant gap and looked poised for victory.
Kevin Vauquelin’s (Arkea Samsic) flyer with one kilometer remaining was a good one. He had a gap and only meters to go. The win looked to be in the bag.
Then a Mads explosion. The race leader shot out of the bunch.
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Mads powered by the Arkea rider right at the white line.
“It was not easy; the whole team worked really well,” said Pedersen, who again finished off a whole-team effort to pull back the breakaway. “Alex [Kirsch] left me in a really good position with around 1.5 -2 kilometers to go. I went in the wheels of FDJ as they had a good lead-out, and then [Kevin Vauquelin] did a really good attack. That meant I had to do an early sprint to catch him but luckily it was a small uphill finish, and it was hard for a solo guy to keep the bunch away. I caught him on the finish line.”
There’s really nothing more to explain – I just had to open the sprint early and hope I could catch him.
In Stage 2, Mads opened his sprint early but the outcome was not in his favor. However, in a less-controlled finish a day later and with no time to make a calculated decision, the result reversed.
“It was a bit of a hectic sprint, and hard to find a wheel, but the moment I found a good wheel it was quite okay,” Mads explained. “To make the decision when to start the sprint, I can’t say how I made that. It was more that I knew I had to go from afar otherwise we were sprinting for second. I would rather risk going early for the win than waiting and finishing second. Luckily today it paid off.”
Kevin Vauquelin finished second and Mark Cavendish rounded out the top three.
“It’s been a good week; it’s nice to have a shape like this and especially with Paris-Roubaix coming up,” added Mads. “The boys did a massive work the whole day: Filippo (Baroncini) started pulling early, and then Kampy (Alexander Kamp) took over with really impressive work, and then Markus (Hoelgaard) did the last bit. We had to count a bit on a few other teams to help catch back the last guy from EF, but yeah, we were not the only ones who wanted a sprint.”
Then, the next question came: Are you strongest in the race?
Mads replied: “Oh, I don’t know, it’s a really strong peloton here. Today it just worked out well for us again.” A humble response. Mads will have a chance to give a more definite answer with his legs on the final day Friday, another expected stage for the sprinters.
“A huge thanks to the boys today – nice to give them a victory today. Now all eyes on tomorrow,” he ended.
Mads takes a 23-second lead into the final day. With his form and a strong, motivated team around him, who will take home the yellow jersey may have already been answered.