In a new feature, the Cyclingnews team pick their rider of the day from the Tour of California. Soren Kragh Andersen is the sixth rider to be chosen, and we will be selecting a rider after each stage.
Andersen started midfield but put in the ride of his life to place fourth at the Amgen Tour of California individual time trial on Friday.
"Pretty hard course," Andersen from the team car after the race. "A lot of wind, but it was a nice distance and OK time trial for me.
Andersen hit the cycling radar in 2014 after he won Denmark's U23 time trial championships. He followed up with a strong 2016 season on Team TreFor, racking up several wins including the prologue and a stage at the Tour de L'Avenir.
Andersen was picked up by Giant-Alpecin for 2016 because of his time trial capabilities and his potential as a classics contender. Giant-Alpecin coach Mark Reef cited Andersen's comfort racing in the cold rain of northern Europe as another benefit the 21-year-old Dane had to offer.
Andersen's 2016 season started off on a high note at the Tour of Qatar, where he finished sixth in the GC and won the Best Young Rider jersey. His spring campaign included support roles at Gent-Wevelgem, Tour of Flanders, and Paris-Roubaix, which helped further his WorldTour education.
Andersen has shown a strong all-around ability in time trials and road races similar to riders like Fabian Cancellara and Taylor Phinney. Despite his strength racing against the clock, Andersen was hesitant to make a commitment when asked if he might try to specialize.
"I don't think so," Andersen said. "Let's see what the future brings. So far so good, I'm still learning a lot and that's my goal right now."
Pat Malach Says:
Bike racing is always full of surprises. There are certain names we expect to see at the top of the results, especially in a time trial. But Soren Kragh Andersen never entered any of the pre-race conversations about what to expect at the end of the day on Friday. The young Dane upset plenty of better-known riders on his way to fourth place, just 13 seconds off the podium. Beating the world champion, who admittedly has had a rough week with a couple of crashes, will surely be a highlight for Andersen as he continues to build his palmares in what looks to be a promising career."
Ted Burns says:
"I wasn't surprised to see Dennis, Phinney or even Talansky on the podium, but I was shocked to see Soren Kragh Andersen at the top of the standings in field that included the time trial world champion. The Tour of California has helped launch several high-profile careers, including Peter Sagan and Julian Alaphilippe, and watching Andersen's ride today had that same feeling of a future star emerging. I grabbed him for a quick post race interview as he left the race in the team car, and when I asked him if he was looking to specialize in time trials, he demurred. It was too much for his teammate in the front seat, who turned around, looked me square in the eye and said, 'He's a specialist. He's too shy to say anything, but he is definitely a time trial specialist.'"