Men’s world road champion Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) has laid down a warning to his rivals by stating that his win in Yorkshire was just the beginning and that he hopes to win several important races before eventually hanging up his wheels.
The 24-year-old put in a masterful performance to win the rainbow jersey in Yorkshire last Autumn and take the biggest win of his career so far. Speaking to Cyclingnews at the Trek-Segafredo training camp this winter, the Danish rider pinpointed Paris-Roubaix as his dream race to win but the young rider would not put a timeframe on the subject, admitting that he was still learning to race as the men’s road world champion.
“I really want to win Paris-Roubaix. I won it as a junior and I want that big cobblestone at home. I won't say I will win it this year because I know how difficult it is to win those Classics but hopefully I have a few more years at the top level. But if I win Flanders and not Roubaix by the end of my cycling career then I’ll still be proud. I’m still hungry though. This is just the beginning. I’m only 24 and I want more,” Pedersen told Cyclingnews.
Pedersen will make his 2020 race debut at the Tour Down Under later this month before building up for the Classics at the Challenge Mallorca. He will race in Belgium at the Opening Weekend before leading a strong Trek-Segafredo team into the bulk of the Classics. Racing with the rainbow jersey on his shoulders will attract pressure and scrutiny but one of cycling’s most coveted and iconic jerseys will also help Pedersen draw inspiration and confidence. From a tactical point of view, the Dane also thinks that his rivals could spend too much time watching him and that other Trek Segafredo riders could exploit situations.
“I’m ready. I think that I’m ready. I hope that I am. Of course, it’s a new situation and I have to learn how to race like that. In Denmark, we say that if one bad thing happens for one then a good thing can happen for another. So, maybe we could play it so that if a lot of people are looking at me then it could be good for the team because we have a lot of strong riders,” Pedersen said.
“I want to be on the top, top level and fight for the races. If you’re strong enough then everything is possible. I was super bad in the spring last year but then I won Worlds. Now I need to reach a top-level with consistency. It’s about believing that every time I race I can be at the top. Power-wise I’ve shown that I can be there. Maybe it’s a mental thing about doing it in all the races that I do.”
The winter saw media interest in Pedersen reach new levels. His Worlds win meant more sponsor activity and a long list of interview requests. He and his team have tried to keep his off-the-bike duties to a reasonable amount as he gets used to riding as the world champion, and Pedersen has kept his feet on the ground. He hasn’t even watched his Worlds win.
“I’ve had chances to watch it but I’ve chosen not to. I want to keep the initial impressions from the race as I saw them on the day. At one point I’ll sit down and watch them but for now, I want to keep the memories as I see them.”
Back in his home country, Pedersen has also turned his attention to repaying his family for all of their support since he started cycling. Last September he opened a local bike shop which meant that his father could give up his job as a truck driver and work part-time in the family-run business.
“My family is really important to me and it’s important for me to stay around. My dad is working in my bike shop. I opened it so that he had something to do. We have a mechanic but my dad has free time now so he can help me with things like motor pacing. He’s been with me since I started cycling. We have a really strong bond, and it’s stronger than most people have with their fathers. I said that when I was 15 that if I ever earned enough money from cycling to help him stop being a truck driver then I would do it.”
“There was no connection in cycling with my family. I started with football and badminton. I started with team sports but I didn’t really like it. It was always other people’s fault when we lost and I smashed too many rackets in badminton. So my dad bought me a bike and I would ride with him. I was around seven and I liked riding with him. Everything grew from there.”