Matthias Brändle dominated the stage four individual time trial, setting the fastest time splits at both intermediate checkpoints to finish with the best time at the PostNord Danmark Rundt Friday.
Brändle was the only rider to finish under 21 minutes, clocking 20 minutes and 57 seconds for the 17.8-kilometer course, and as an early starter had a long, anxious wait in the hot seat.
When the final rider, teammate Mads Pedersen, crossed the line in 21 minutes and 34 seconds, Brändle could finally exhale – the Austrian had captured his second victory this year after what he described as a turbulent season for him.
"I only had one win until now, it has not been the season I wished for," explained Brändle. "I was not selected for the Tour de France, and it was one of the biggest disappointments of my career after I had trained hard and researched the courses with my bike."
"I was here three or four years ago in Denmark, and I was 3rd or 4th in the TT and this time I thought I want to make it better and today I was able to do that," he continued.
"Today was a course that suited me pretty well. I went full gas from the beginning, and when I crossed the line, I knew it would be a ride for the win. I was waiting for Mads because he is also really good like he was two weeks ago [Mads Pedersen won the time trial at the Tour of Poitou-Charentes -ed]. I am just super happy it happened, and also that Mads could keep the leader's jersey. It was a good day for the team!"
A focused matthias ahead of the TT start
While Brändle captured the second straight win for Trek-Segafredo, Mads Pedersen defended his leader's jersey with a strong ride against the clock, finishing within one second of second place Michael Valgren (Astana) and conserving a nine-second cushion into the final stage Saturday.
"In the end, I am happy with my TT," explained Pedersen. "Of course I would have liked to take some time on him, but I went really deep yesterday, and I could feel that straightaway on the bike. Michael did a really good time trial today, and I think I did a really good one also so in the end, I am really happy and satisfied with the result of being in the same time as Michael.
"I knew I did not have the same legs as in Poitou-Charentes. A TT is always hard, and I was just fighting, fighting, fighting. I was told in the radio that at times I was a little bit in front, a little bit behind, so I knew we were pretty much on the same time, and I just tried to maintain that, and in the end, it worked out.
Pedersen also leads the best young rider competition and with his fourth place in the time trial assumed the lead in the points classification. But the jersey that matters is blue, and it will take a cohesive team effort and another focused and strong effort from the young Dane to secure the overall win Saturday.
"Tomorrow I am going to be a big shadow on Michael the whole day. I will be sure he does not go anywhere or take any bonus seconds. That's for sure our main goal tomorrow to keep him on a short line and track him down all the day," Pedersen said.
"I think the situation is good for us, especially if third and fourth place also race tomorrow. If I really have an eye on Michael, I think everything will be good."