The Danish men’s team are among the strongest teams for this year’s World Championships road race with a string of possible contenders including Kasper Asgreen, Michael Valgren, Magnus Cort and 2019 winner Mads Pedersen.
While all eyes will be on Wout van Aert and his Belgian team to control business, the Danish team is arguably the most comprehensive roster in the race, and according to Pedersen the team will use Deceuninck- type tactics. QuickStep trying to cram as many runners as possible into the final.
“We have a strong team and of course we have more than one leader. Of course we have to talk about it, but I also think it’s an advantage, ”said Pedersen. Cycling news in an exclusive interview during his trip from Denmark to Belgium.
“If you watch QuickStep and how they run with a lot of strong guys, that’s how we should see it. Instead of putting all or money on black, we should spread it out because we have a lot of guys. that can get results.
“I would say we have four leaders and it can be difficult in a race, but I think we have to be a little easy with the term leader because I think the whole team is the stronger to win. It’s an open race for us.
Despite the collective depth, it is unclear whether the Danes will be forced to take responsibility for controlling the race. Most of the heavy lifting will be transferred to the Belgians, while France and the Netherlands are expected to take their part as they focus on Julian Alaphilippe and Mathieu van der Poel respectively.
Pedersen isn’t sure how the race will go, but he’s adamant that he and his team won’t step back and run passively. Aggressive nature suits the Worlds route this year, with a route punctuated by small climbs and changes of direction nearby and in Leuven. The distance of 268.3 km and the risk of rain will make the race a war of attrition, but the Danes are focused on their race and not their rivals.
“It really depends on how the race goes and how the other nations are looking at us. The Belgians have the big leader and the responsibility because it’s a home race. The guys from Holland with Van der Poel, and Alaphilippe and France, they also have It could be a traffic jam to take control and it could be good for us, ”Pedersen said.
“We’re not here to watch anyone. We’re here to do our own race and our opinion is if we look at the other guys we’re a step behind. Of course, we will have clear roles in the race, and we still have to talk about that but we know that if there is a sprint, we will do it for me.
Pedersen’s own form is a bit more difficult to read at this point. He withdrew from the Benelux Tour as a precaution due to a persistent hip injury. However he has won two victories in recent weeks with a one-piece stage of the Tour of Denmark and the Tour of Norway.
“I stopped in the Benelux and it was mainly to do nothing at the hip. It meant I could take a few extra days off and then be ready for it. The general shape, however, is quite good. I just had this hip problem since the Tour, but this extra free time gives me more time to recover and be ready for the Worlds. I’m just trying to give a boost a bit later before I can rest properly at the end of the season.
The disappointments of 2020 and 2021
That said, the 25-year-old hasn’t lived up to his own expectations this season. He won Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne in February, but COVID-19 hit Trek-Segafredo in the spring and Pedersen never regained his momentum in time for the Tour of Flanders.
He fell from the Dauphiné and never reached his pace in the Tour de France, but there is still time to save the campaign with the Worlds and Paris-Roubaix still to come.
“It’s not the season I was hoping for,” he told Cyclingnews.
“I was hoping for more results and more consistency, but with the crashes in the Tour and the Dauphiné, I just had stupid injuries. This meant that I had to take breaks during times when I wanted to train really hard. With the results it looks good but if you ask me it’s not good enough. I wanted more than three wins and I wanted more high caliber wins than Norway and Denmark, nothing against those races. I wish it had been better, but the season is not over and it can still be saved. “
Finding the motivation for a world championship, especially for a classicist like Pedersen, is never a fight, but the Dane admits his 2020 season leaves him feeling sad, even though he’s not. fully hooked on the question. His year in the rainbow jersey was wiped out by the global pandemic and he did not have the chance to wear the coveted jersey at the spring classics after the races were moved to the end of the season.
“What I’m saddest about is never having had the chance to do the Classics in the jersey. It would have been so good to have done Paris-Roubaix in the rainbow jersey. So of course it would be so good to win it again and have this season complete the rainbow jersey. It would be super cool, ”he said.
“I’ve always enjoyed my year in 2020 and if you ask people 50 years from now how many days I’ve been in the jersey, all they’ll remember is that I was the world champion. I don’t mind and it’s not my motivation to try to win again.