Pedersen crashed out of the Critérium du Dauphiné in the lead up to the Tour de France and then when he lined up at the Grand Tour saw his hopes of stage wins fade, with an eighth place on the fourth day the best he could do. The results didn't stacked up to his 2020 performance, when he twice came close to a stage victory with second places, and nor did it live up to the rider’s own expectations.
“Yeah, it’s not a secret that the Tour was pretty shit,” said Pedersen in a statement. “I was fighting through that to get another level for the rest of the season, and I think today shows it was worth it to go through all that in France. It’s just nice to win again, and on home roads, it’s even nicer.”
The uphill cobbled finish in Sønderborg at the end of the 189.6 kilometre stage 2 of the PostNord Danmark Rundt – Tour of Denmark – was an ideal fit for the winner of Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne. Sitting sixth in line in the final 200 metres Pedersen then launched and just didn’t look back, catching the sprinters out with a strong and sustained acceleration. The 25 year old held off the duelling Giacomo Nizzolo (Qhubeka-NextHash) and Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma), who were bumping shoulders as they charged toward the line.
“This is never an easy finish – uphill and a headwind – but I believed I could win,” said Pedersen. “It was also a hard race today, and the last laps were really hard with Remco (Evenepoel) doing a crazy tempo for almost two and a half laps alone, pulling really really hard. It was just a hard day, and I know after a hard day like this, I can still do a good sprint.”
There was a split in the peloton earlier in the race, with cross winds blowing from the North Sea, but the race ultimately came back together. The new break which then formed with 70 kilometres to go was swept up not long after the race arrived on the technical 6.5 kilometre finishing circuit, which the peloton would pass through three times.
“The team did a really, really good job today. When it split in the crosswind, we were three guys there, and the moment the second group came back, the whole team was in the front within minutes,” said Pedersen.
“Jakob (Egholm) did some good pulling in the local lap, (Alexander) Kamp helped really well, and Julien (Bernard) also. Mattias (Skjelmose), (Matteo) Moschetti and Michel (Ries) – the whole team worked together; it’s nice to pay the guys back,” said the former world champion. “In the first meeting we had yesterday, I said I am here to win. It’s nice to see that they suffered to help me do that.”
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