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No Milan-San Remo for Mads Pedersen despite sparkling early form

Mads Pedersen celebrates the win on stage 3 of Paris-Nice
Mads Pedersen celebrates the win on stage 3 of Paris-Nice (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

At first glance, it looked like a calling card for Milan-San Remo, but after winning stage 3 of Paris-Nice with a powerful uphill sprint, Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) confirmed that he would not be on the start line of La Primavera on March 19.

Defending champion Jasper Stuyven, who so expertly led out the Dane here, will be Trek-Segafredo’s lone leader at Milan-San Remo, with Pedersen preferring instead to focus on maintaining his form for the cobbled Classics.

“I think this year with Roubaix one week later, it’s going to be too long to hold a peak of form, so that’s why I won’t do it,” Pedersen said at the finish in Dun-le-Palestel. “And then after his win last year, Jasper definitely deserves to be the only leader for the race this year. We had a good talk about it: Jasper deserves to be the leader, so I’m focusing on my plan and on gaining the last bit of shape before the Classics.”

Pedersen saw off 2020 Milan-San Remo winner Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) with a thundering sprint in Dun-le-Palestel, leading from the front and then burning the Belgian champion off his wheel in the final 100 metres. It was his second win of the nascent 2022 season, but his focus is firmly on the cobbled Classics rather than on the Via Roma.

Stuyven, for his part, was understanding of Pedersen’s decision to forgo the Italian race, and he stressed that his main concern was that Trek-Segafredo’s two Classics leaders would both produce their best form together on the cobbles.

“He's not doing San Remo, but it’s not about returning a favour, it’s about who has the best cards to win,” said Stuyven. “In the Classics, we’re hoping to have one season where we’re both on a good level, because the past seasons have been on and off for one of us. But I think for the sprints, he trusts me 100 percent, and I think I’m pretty good at doing the lead-out work. I like to do it for a friend, and a good teammate.”

The win was Trek-Segafredo’s first in the WorldTour since last July, although Pedersen had already notched up a stage win at Étoile de Bessèges, where he caught the eye across the entire race. Although he maintained that he had enjoyed the best form of his life ahead of the 2019 World Championships, he acknowledged that he had never been as strong this early in the season.

“I don’t know why,” Pedersen said. “I changed coach last year and then maybe we changed the approach going into the season. Instead of making steps slowly towards the Classics, we took a big step and tried to keep it stable for a long time. We hope that’s the right thing to do.”

Pedersen, who said his new trainer was “a coach of the team,” opted to skip Opening Weekend this year, despite his victory at Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne in 2021. His overriding objective of the spring, he said, was Paris-Roubaix, which this year takes place two weeks after the Tour of Flanders.

“Roubaix is definitely my dream race to win and if I could pick, I would definitely pick Roubaix,” Pedersen said. “But when my career is over, if I have won Flanders and not Roubaix, then I wouldn’t complain.”

Beyond the Classics, Pedersen has designs on putting in a performance in the opening time trial of the Tour de France in Copenhagen in July. He was beaten only by world champion Filippo Ganna in the time trial at Étoile de Bessèges and he will look to test himself in the 13.9km individual time trial to Montluçon on stage 4 of Paris-Nice on Wednesday.

“The TT looks like the one in Copenhagen when we start the Tour, just with a small kick in the end, so I’m definitely going full gas tomorrow to see where I stand and where I will be against fast guys,” Pedersen said. “Tomorrow is not a rest day, it’s another day at full gas."

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Barry Ryan

Barry Ryan is European Editor at Cyclingnews. He has covered professional cycling since 2010, reporting from the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and events from Argentina to Japan. His writing has appeared in The Independent, Procycling and Cycling Plus. He is the author of The Ascent: Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche and the Rise of Irish Cycling’s Golden Generation (opens in new tab), published by Gill Books.