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New world champion Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) will debut his new rainbow stripes this weekend. A planned start by new world champion Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) will be delayed due to illness.
Danish rider Pedersen will race for the first time since his surprise win in the men’s road race in Yorkshire. On Saturday he lines up in the Tour de l’Eurométropole. He will wear dossard number one because he cycling’s new star and the 2018 winner.
“I still can’t believe I really did it!” Pedersen said of his win Sunday. He is now dried out from the rain-soaked 260.7km race in Yorkshire and ready for Belgium.
“For sure, it will be very special to line up for the very first time in my rainbow jersey and I am happy I get to show it still, before I end my season.”
Last year, he won the 206km race ahead of Jempy Drucker (Bora-Hansgrohe, then with Team BMC Racing) and Oliver Naesen (Ag2r La Mondiale). His biggest rival will be Colombian Alvaro Hodeg (Deceuninck-Quick Step), winner of the Sparkassen Münsterland Giro on Thursday.
Everything changes 12 months later. Organizers are calling Pedersen and Team Trek-Segafredo to make sure the new rainbow jersey shines on their start line.
After the race in Tournai, just over the border from the finish of Paris-Roubaix, Pedersen will travel towards Milan for two back-to-back races to close out his 2019 season.
Tre Valli Varesine should swing more in favor of those with a finishing punch, like 2018 winner Toms Skujins (Trek-Segafredo) or Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), second in the last two editions. Pedersen will head a star line up that includes Tour de France winner Egan Bernal (Ineos), Vuelta a España winner Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) and Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida).
The next day, Pedersen starts in RCS Sport’s Milano-Torino, which is definitely more suited to the likes of Bernal and Roglic than Pedersen. Next to Pedersen at the start will be Deceuninck-Quick Step stars Julian Alaphilippe and Philippe Gilbert. Despite unfavorable conditions, eyes will be on the 23-year-old.
“I’m finished with playing the underdog. I think that’s going to be pretty much impossible from now on,” Pedersen said.
“That’s a new situation and I have to race in another way from now on.”
Dutchwoman van Vleuten was expecting to show off her rainbow bands for the first time after her 100km solo victory in the Worlds on Saturday at the Giro dell’Emilia in Bologna.
Team officials, however, confirmed she’s fallen ill, and will not start.
She is also scheduled to race at the Tour of Guangxi in the country’s south on October 20.
“I had some celebrations but I don’t think it has ruined my legs and I trained again already because I still have some focus,” she said earlier.
“Last year, I finished on a low, I couldn’t enjoy my world time trial title after my injury, so it makes this one even more special and I am really looking forward to racing in the jersey already.”