Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) came away from the first Spanish stage of the 2022 Vuelta with a distinct sense of a half-full/half-empty glass, as the former World Champion claimed a third second place in a row, but simultaneously moved to within touching distance of Sam Bennett’s (Bora-Hansgrohe) green jersey.
Trek-Segafredo were notably present on the front on the Alto de Herrera, the last classified climb of the day, to ensure that as few of the sprinters made it into the finale.
But Pedersen was up there, and if he fell short of being able to stay on terms with Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) on Laguardia's tough uphill, finishing second to the three-time Vuelta winner, which is hardly a poor result and at the same time has reignited the battle for green.
While Bennett, faster than Pedersen on stages 2 and 3, has 127 points, Pedersen is now just 9 points behind the Irishman, with 118. Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) remains a distant third, with 34.
“I’m pretty happy, today was all about getting more points than Sam for the green jersey as we succeeded quite well at that,” Pedersen told Cyclingnews as he warmed down.
“I’m both unhappy and happy with the second place today. It shows good form for the legs for the next few weeks of the Vuelta.”
As for whether going for the stage victory itself had been in the plan, Pedersen said simply “we raced to win today.”
“I tried to follow but he [Roglič] made a gap quite fast. After he made a gap, I kept it there so, ach, he's one of the best riders in the world and on a finish like this it’s almost impossible, or rather it is impossible, for me to follow him, so congrats to him.”
Meanwhile, the battle for green goes on and Pedersen argued that “we’re trying to grab as many points as we can. Tomorrow is another day for more points, so we’ll go to the hotel, take a rest and look at the next stage.”
If Pedersen has proved by far the most consistent, both on the Dutch and Spanish stages so far, the big change is in the terrain and the temperatures, which soared in the Basque Country to around 37 degrees Celsius by mid-afternoon.
“This was the warmest day so far, so after a rest day and then this heat, a lot of guys have suffered here, including me. So for sure, you’ll see some bodies affected by it tomorrow," Pedersen noted.
Pedersen has a more than successful track record in points classifications in week-long races this year, winning the ranking in the Circuite de la Sarthe, Étoile de Bessèges, and Tour of Belgium so far this year, and in Denmark in 2021. And if Bennett remains in the lead for now in that ranking in the Vuelta, Pedersen's results are a reminder there's far more than one contender out there for green in Madrid.
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