Søren Kragh Andersen (Team Sunweb) has revealed that in stark contrast to his first stage win in Lyon, he had no plans on Friday to attack en route to his second victory in this year’s Tour de France.
Just like in Lyon, the Danish racer secured his second victory with a solo move, although on Saturday he attacked from the main pack close to the city centre finish, and this time he went from much further out and from a break.
But the main difference was, he said, that whereas in Lyon on stage 14, Team Sunweb had a pre-stage strategy of firing riders down the road to try for victory. At Champagnole he had to improvise completely.
“A week ago, I was aiming on doing a final attack, today it came as a surprise,” Kragh Andersen told reporters.
“I really had to adapt my mindsight from working for Cees Bol, as we’d planned, to going for it myself. My job had been to follow the sprinters when they were going for the bonus points early on in the stage, and then it all came back again.
“But suddenly there was a big group of breakaways with all the strong guys in there for the stage victory and although I was surprised at the time, that was when I had to adapt,” Kragh Andersen said about the big group forming with about 35 kilometres to go.
“It was a perfect moment, because we had Nikias [Arndt] in the group to cover the sprints, so [Matteo] Trentin [CCC Team] launched a big attack and I thought I had better go for it.”
Team Sunweb had already underlined their mastery of the breakaways in the 2020 Tour last week with wins by Marc Hirschi in Sarran, where Kragh Andersen was third, and then the Dane again in Lyon two days later.
Kragh Andersen emphasised that a lot of their achievements have been due to a major re-thinking and re-structuring after the departure of some top names. Among those who have moved on are, of course, Tom Dumoulin at the end of last year to Jumbo-Visma.
“We got in a lot of new riders, but Sunweb has been very good at developing those names. We have fun, we have good talks and we get closer to each other as teammates,” he explained.
Having jumped away with 16 kilometres to go, Kragh Andersen seemed increasingly likely to get the win as he carved open a steady, widening gap. But even he found it hard to believe that he had managed to gain a minute on the chase group as he sped towards the finish line for his second win, yelling at the TV motorbike ‘Combien?’ to try and be certain of the margins.
“When I asked what the gap I was, I thought it wasn’t possible. They told me over the radio but people were shouting so much from the roadsides I couldn’t understand anything,” he explained.
But another key ingredient, along with the time, was in place, he said - self-belief that he could stay away to the line. “My confidence was there from Lyon, I’d already proved myself in the biggest bike race in the world. I knew if I was suffering while I was going full gas, so were the guys behind,” he said.
However, despite getting two stage wins in one Tour - and being the first Dane in over two decades to do so - Kragh Andersen says he will be keeping his feet on the ground in the weeks to come and his objectives will remain the same post-Tour as they always had been.
He rejected the idea that it was a shame that he was not doing the World Championships, because it does not suit a rouleur like himself. Or, as he put it, “today’s stage had 2,000 metres of climbing, the World’s has 5,000 metres and that says it all. I’ll be looking at the BinckBank Tour and then the Classics.”
Although he did not mention Paris-Tours, it would not be surprising if this race, where he’s come second and first, was among those one-day autumn goals. But after his two stage wins in the Tour de France, there’s no denying that come what may Kragh Andersen’s season is already a massive success.
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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