Before the Tour de France began, Durangoan Quinn Simmons said one of his team’s goals was to hunt for stage wins.
On a hot and hilly 193-kilometer Stage 13 on Friday, Trek-Segafredo helped Mads Pedersen bag a win and accomplish their goal for the first time this Tour.
“It’s incredible to finally take a win,” Pedersen said. “I knew the shape was pretty good, but in the last two weeks, there were not a lot of chances for a guy like me, so to take the chance today and get rewarded … it’s really nice, not only for me, for the whole team. I don’t think I have realized yet what I have done. It’s a nice milestone, and I am happy with this, but, of course, I want more. I hope this is just the beginning.”
“It was about finding the good legs again. Denmark didn’t go 100% as planned. I was not disappointed with sixth in the time trial and then third the next day, so it was not that bad, but of course we came for more,” Pedersen continued.
“And when half the team was sick and so on, it was a bit of a gamble the last few days, and today it paid off for the whole team,” he said. “We came here with the whole team only looking for stages and now we have one. It’s a big relief for everyone.”
Pedersen and Simmons joined the breakaway with five other strong riders, and there was little doubt it was going to be touch and go.
Their lead hovered between 90 seconds and two minutes for most of the stage, increasing to a maximum of 3 minutes, 30 seconds after the Côte de Saint-Romain-en-Gal with 45 kilometers to go.
Simmons tried to keep the breakaway ahead before he lost contact on the climb, leaving Pedersen to work with his breakaway companions.
With 15 kilometers to go, the gap stood at 2:18.
Team BikeExchange sat up a few kilometers and the breakaway’s gap ballooned. On paper, if it came down to a sprint, Pedersen was the man.
But Pedersen didn’t wait.
“With 10K to go, I didn’t want to be at the finish with six riders as it would be too many guys to control,” Pedersen said. “So I tried to attack, and luckily it split up the break, and we were only three guys and that made it a lot easier to control for me. From 10 to 5k, I just wanted to make the gap as big as possible so that we had time to slow down and gamble a bit in the last few hundred meters.”
Hugo Houle of Israel-Premier Tech and Fred Wright of Bahrain Victorious went with the Pedersen while Filippo Ganna of INEOS Grenadiers and Stefan Kung of Groupama-FDJ could not react.
“It was a big relief to get rid of Ganna and Kung on the last climb – they were the last two guys I wanted to bring in the last kilometers because when they go it can be really hard to catch them,” Pedersen said.
Houle and Wright tried a few digs in the final kilometers, but Pedersen responded. In the final three-way sprint, Pedersen rode away from his competitors and even had time to look back before he threw his arms in the air at the finish line.
In the general classification, Jonas Vingegaard of Team Jumbo-Visma maintained his 2:22 advantage over Tadej Pogacar of UAE Team Emirates. Both cyclists finished 5:45 back in the peloton, with Pogacar crossing 12th and Vingegaard 19th.
After his effort to help Pedersen win the stage, Simmons finished 114th, 13:13 back.
Fellow Durangoan Sepp Kuss finished 38th for Jumbo-Visma in the peloton. Kuss also remained in 17th in the GC, trailing his teammate by 24:55.
Jumbo-Visma’s Wout Van Aert also scored another 20 points and now has more than twice as many points as Pogacar in second, 333-164.