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DUN-LE-PALESTEL, France (VN) – After Jumbo-Visma on day one, QuickStep-AlphaVinyl on day two, it was Trek-Segafredo’s turn to demonstrate their strength in depth on day three of Paris-Nice 2022, as Jasper Stuyven led out Mads Pedersen for an extremely impressive uphill bunch sprint win, in the process providing a timely reminder that they should be in the thick of the action for the upcoming Classics.
The pair have been teammates for six seasons and over that time have developed a close bond both on and off the road. However, they’ve never both peaked at the same time during spring classics – until this year it seems, and that could make all of the difference to both of them and their American team.
“Jasper and me have worked really well together for many years. We’ve been like this a lot of times, but never in the classics,” Pedersen said after his Paris-Nice success in Dun-le-Palestel. “Every year we’ve hoped that would happen, but it hasn’t yet, so we’re definitely hoping that this is the year that we’ll both be on form together in the big races. Given the shape we’ve both got, we’re confident that we can both be up there.”
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Speaking to VeloNews in Dun-le-Palestel, Trek sports director Steven De Jongh agreed that the omens are good. “This is a good sign for the classics,” he said. “Mads didn’t do Opening Weekend. We decided he should do an extra training block there because Roubaix is a little later than normal this year. We missed him there, but in the next block of classics we’re all together again and we’ll put out the strongest line-up.”
Although Pedersen’s form has been good since early February and he still looks strong, Trek are sticking to their plan of giving the 2019 world champion some rest days after Paris-Nice rather than sending him to Milan-San Remo, where Stuyven is the defending champion. “Sanremo’s not on his schedule and I’m not asking for him to be put on it,” Stuyven said as he warmed down on the rollers minutes after Pedersen’s Paris-Nice victory. “We know when we need to play our cards and hopefully this sprint showed that we can put the two of them on the table when we need to.”
Pedersen explained that the pair have had a conversation about him missing Sanremo and have agreed that it’s probably the best choice for both riders. “Jasper won last year and he definitely deserves to be the sole leader for that race. People might say that I could be there to help him, but I had a good talk with Jasper about this and we’re completely on the same page about it,” the Dane said.
“With Roubaix coming one week later, it’s a long time from Sanremo to Roubaix, and that’s why I decided not to do Sanremo, but to have a rest after this race and then be good for the northern classics.” This means that, following Paris-Nice, they will reunite for the GP E3, Gent-Wevelgem, and then for the two monuments that follow, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.
Pedersen pointed out, though, that he still had one specific target to aim for in Paris-Nice – Wednesday’s 13.4km time trial between Domérat and Montluçon. “It looks like the one in Copenhagen when we start the Tour de France, although that one doesn’t have the small kicker at the end,” said the Dane, who was a close second to world TT champion Filippo Ganna in a similar test at last month’s Étoile de Bessèges.
“I’m definitely going full gas to see where I stand against fast guys. So it’s not a rest day, it’s another day full gas, but only for 15 minutes,” he declared.