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SAINT-ÉTIENNE, France (VN) – The Tour de France left Denmark, but Denmark didn’t leave the Tour de France.
Mads Pedersen became the third Danish stage-winner in four days with a pummeling stage victory in Saint-Étienne on Friday.
Trek-Segadredo’s former world champion made stage 13 play into his own hands with a dominant day in the breakaway before a huge long-range sprint that landed him his first grand tour stage victory after he came so close in his home grand départ.
“It’s a really big relief, I was really working hard this season to be [the] best possible, especially with the start in Denmark, and I didn’t have the win in Denmark I really dreamed about,” Pedersen told reporters after the stage. “But now I have the win here, I’m so happy not only for me, but for for the whole team.”
It was an afternoon that left the Danish-speaking press working overtime as it processed the press conferences of two of its riders after Jonas Vingegaard successfully defended his yellow jersey for a second day.
Denmark rose from its dark cycling past to become a renaissance nation packing a hefty presence in the modern WorldTour peloton.
Pedersen paid tribute to the role of grassroots cycling clubs and volunteers in putting Denmark back on the pro cycling map.
“That the Tour puts four stages that fit the Danish guys so well, so close to each other, I think that’s more luck than anything else,” Pedersen said. “But it also shows that we have a good mix of riders in Denmark with Jonas, Magnus [Cort] and a more sprinting guy like me. It’s just crazy that we have three wins in such a short amount of time.”
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Riders like Mathias and Emma Norsgaard, Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, and Alexander Kamp are just some of the names helping Denmark deliver on the world stage.
The bike-mad nation responded in kind by delivering a sell-out “big start” in Copenhagen and painting the Alpe d’Huez red-and-white for Vingegaard on the alpine “Queen stage” on Thursday.
“For so many years it was working so well in Denmark with all this support,” Pedersen said. “And now we have a big generation who is doing really well and it’s showing off on the biggest stage right now.”
Simmons sets up stage victory: ‘Quinn played a big part of today’
But, Pedersen didn’t do it for Denmark without a little outside help on Friday.
The burly Dane paid tribute to Coloradan teammate Quinn Simmons for his crucial role in easing his own workload in the day’s decisive break.
“Quinn, he definitely played a big part of today,” Pedersen said.
The U.S Tour rookie rode until he was nearly cross-eyed as he switched gears from racing for his own stage victories to working for his Trek-Segafredo teammate.
“When we went away, Quinn, he was pulling harder and longer than I did, especially on the climbs, and we took a lot of time on the peloton, so definitely he was a big part of the win today,” Pedersen said. “So a huge thanks to him.”
Simmons dropped out of the break after his “MVP” play for Trek Segafredo. But two more transition stages on the road to the Pyrénées offer both Simmons and Pedersen opportunities for more.
“This definitely gives a boost for the next days. We will see how are we are going to do in the next two days,” Pedersen said.