Mads World: Waving goodbye to the rainbow

Road race champion Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) at the 2020 Tour de France – his last race in the rainbow jersey
Road race champion Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) at the 2020 Tour de France – his last race in the rainbow jersey (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

It's always nice to be back home after a month on the road. I've been living out of a suitcase since a week before the Tour de France, but now I'm back in my own bed and spending time with my family. It's bliss.

There have been a few training rides to help keep the legs ticking over, but as I write this blog on Saturday night, I know that tomorrow's ride will be my last in the rainbow jersey.

I'm super happy about how the Tour de France went. I knew going into the race that my main focus would be on helping Richie Porte as much as possible, and seeing him stand on the podium was a huge achievement for the Trek-Segafredo team. He's been aiming for a top result at that race for so many years and it was a special moment to see him finally arrive at his goal.

The Tour was good for me, too. I had some really good rides in the mountains, and was of course second on the final stage into Paris. I missed out on a stage win, but I knew that going up against the likes of Sam Bennett, Peter Sagan and Caleb Ewan would be incredibly tough. But if you don't aim at winning, then you'll never taste victory, so we made sure that we gave it everything that we could. Jasper gave me a perfect lead-out but the only problem was that Bennett got a perfect delivery to the line as well. Sam could open the sprint from my wheel, but I have to be happy with my Tour de France. It has opened up some more doors for me, and to get my first Tour under my belt is another step in my development.

If you ask any kid growing up – and I was included in this – what they wanted to do when they turned pro, they'd always say that their dream was to race the Tour de France. To complete the Tour and to do that with Niklas Eg was a special moment, too. As you know we roomed together at the race but we've been racing bikes together since we were eight years old.

If you're reading this and thinking that the celebrations were wild on the Sunday in Paris, think again. The Belgians had to leave for their national championships and Richie wanted to go and see his newborn daughter, so in the end there were just 10 guys left, and we ended up having some shitty burger in Paris and had an early night. Also, with everything that's going on in the world, it doesn't really feel like we should be out there celebrating. We have to be grateful that there was even a Tour de France in the first place, and that we can now turn our attention to the Classics.

Paris was my last race in the rainbow jersey, but Sunday is my final training ride in the sacred stripes. My plan is go out early, even before the racing starts, and enjoy myself in the jersey one last time. I'm heading out with my best friend who lives locally, and we've got a nice route planned as I see out my year as world champion in style.

I've had one year in this beautiful jersey, and while I know it's been a hard time, and the racing situation hasn't been ideal, I'm also humble enough to know that I'm incredibly lucky. I work hard, of course, but for 12 months I was privileged to wear the most beautiful jersey in all of cycling.

Of course, I'd started to think about going to Imola, but the reason I'm not there is because I need to focus on the Classics, and up until a few weeks ago, the course for the Worlds was far more mountainous. I know that I was climbing well at the Tour de France, and so there was some temptation to change track, but I need to stay focused on my plan.

When I look back, though, I can be proud of how I represented the sport in the jersey. I won my stage wearing it at the Tour de Pologne, and that was a huge relief. It meant that no one could look back and say that I didn't deserve my success. Most importantly, though, I hope that cycling fans saw that I represented the jersey to the best of my ability and carried it with dignity through what has been an unprecedented year.

Whoever takes over from me on Sunday, I wish them the best of luck and a year of happiness, and as my rainbow fades, theirs comes into view.

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Follow the 21-year-old Dane as he embarks on his first season in the WorldTour with Trek-Segafredo.