The COVID-19 pandemic has brought professional cycling to a halt. In the coming weeks we will be reaching out to pro riders and other personalities from the sport to understand how their lives are continuing amidst the shutdown.
Few riders could be more frustrated at the season’s sudden standby due to the coronavirus crisis than world champion Mads Pedersen. The 24-year old was hoping to show off his rainbow jersey in the beloved cobblestone classics. And they were seemingly right around the corner, before he was sent home early from Paris-Nice at the request of his Danish government. But Pedersen remains hopeful that a short but intense season of racing will return later this summer. And he still dreams of showing off his stripes in the Tour de France, not to mention his favorite race, Paris-Roubaix.
What are the current regulations for where you live about going outside?
Here in Denmark, we are still allowed to ride our bikes outside. And that is wonderful, especially because we still have some nice weather. They are opening up the schools a bit and fortunately I didn’t have to spend the last four weeks inside on a trainer.
What races were you planning to do that have been canceled or postponed?
All of the cobbled classics — and I was particularly looking forward to showing my jersey in Tour of Flanders, and Paris- Roubaix. I was happy with my condition in the spring. I was not 100 percent in the opening weekend (Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne) but I made good progress in Paris-Nice, and was ready for the classics.
My dream is to win Roubaix. I won it as a junior and I was dreaming of racing it in the rainbow stripes. But some things are more important than showing my jersey and racing right now. Hopefully, I will win Roubaix one day. And if it is in September or October that is fine with me. It would be a very special Roubaix in fact. But I have no news about any return for racing yet, so I am just riding relaxed.
Are you doing a workout? If so, what specifically?
I am not doing anything really specific, but just trying to maintain a good condition. I am putting in the hours and doing a little intensity, but nothing crazy. I am definitely enjoying a few more cakes and things too since I am not racing. But I can’t go crazy with that either. Really I just want to be at a level where I can get back into top form quickly once the racing does begin.
What indoor gear are you using?
Really I am riding mostly outdoors. I just get on Zwift for a group ride, sometimes.
What is your motivation for training right now?
To be ready for racing when it does resume. I am pretty sure that that the season can be saved. It is a new situation for everyone, but I am confident that the UCI can put together the nice end of the season. It will be very concentrated, but exciting. I think it is important for all of cycling that the Tour goes on. It is a big three weeks for all of the teams and sponsors and I really hope that the UCI and ASO can make the Tour happen.
What have you enjoyed most about the extra free time at home?
Well, I just moved into a new house and spent some time moving and getting everything sorted in a new house with the furniture. Mostly, really enjoying time with my wife Lisette and my family. That is definitely nicer than being in a hotel in Belgium, but that said, I would like to have been out racing these last weeks.
What races do you most hope to still do this year?
Well I was planning to do the Tour de France and will hope to do that if it is rescheduled. I hope that it happens, even if we have to do it without spectators. We are in a unique situation and although that would be extreme, if that is what we have to do to make Tour happen, then it is better than not having it. As it stands, I think a lot of teams can survive this, but if the Tour is canceled, that will be another situation. Sure it would not be the same without spectators, but nothing is the same right now. It’s just a really important three weeks for the teams, the sponsors, everyone. It is really important that we can race the Tour, at least.
When do you think you will race again?
I really don’t know, but I think we can have a nice end of the year with a lot of great races. There would be a lot of big races in a short period, which could be really cool. Everything would be really packed in together with the Tour, and the monuments. But I can tell you that myself and all of my teammates are really ready to race again.
What do you like most about modern cycling? What do you like least?
I really like new bikes, fast bikes, and good-looking bikes. But I don’t like all of the data collecting. Sometimes I wish I could just turn it off and race my bike. I understand the need, but sometimes it is annoying.
If there was a very concentrated racing calendar at the end of the season and you had to choose between the Tour de France or the cobbled classics, what would you choose?
I am pretty sure that I would do the monuments. Right now in my career, and with the rainbow jersey I would be really proud to do Roubaix. But I am not sure if the team would okay with that. We will just have to see what happens.