After second place in his season debut yesterday, Mads Pedersen didn’t have to wait long to move up to the top step of the podium. A strong breakaway animated the day, and despite the absence of Daan Hoole, who abandoned due to illness, Lidl-Trek’s combined strength was able to control the stage, in partnership with a couple of other teams who were also interested in a sprint finish. With 5.5km to go Marco Brenner (Tudor) broke clear, but he was neutralized by the combined effort of the sprint teams. One final card was played by Kévin Vaquelin (Arkea), but Toms Skujiņš was on hand to lift the pace and make the catch in time for sprint. The speed was already high due to the chase, which just left Luxembourg champ Alex Kirsch to twist the throttle before Pedersen launched his ferocious sprint. The former world champion crossed the line comfortably in the lead, earning himself 10 bonus seconds in the process and moving into the race lead with two stages remaining.
Mads Pedersen’s reaction: “It’s a really good day for us and nice to give the guys the victory they deserved yesterday. [Moving into the GC lead] sums up the two good days of racing. We’re happy, and now it’s on for tomorrow so we’ll see how it goes. I’m expecting to get attacked tomorrow, it’s a hard finish and I’m not the strongest climber here so for sure they will try, and they have to, they’re here to win the race also. But now we have what we came for, we came for a stage victory, so we are happy but of course we will try to hang on with these guys tomorrow. The shape is good, so of course I have to try. The GC would be a bonus because we know how hard it will be tomorrow.”