Mads Pedersen sprinted to a surprising second place in the final stage of the PostNord Danmark Rundt and easily clinched the overall title of the five-day race, Saturday.
Pedersen started the fifth stage with a nine-second lead over Michael Valgren (Team Astana), but with a strong Trek-Segafredo team leading the way, he never looked threatened during the 198-kilometer race.
"I have to say the team did an amazing job today to keep it all together. They controlled the race perfectly and did exactly as we planned, and I think in the end it may have taken a little bit the energy from Valgren to attack because maybe he saw how strong the team was," Pedersen said.
The Denmark Tour saved the longest stage for last, but it was no concern to the Trek-Segafredo team despite being down two men after Matthias Brändle departed for the World Championships Team Time Trial, and John Degenkolb, feeling under the weather for a few days already, abandoned after 20 kilometers.
All five teammates lined the front ahead of Pedersen and controlled most of the 198 kilometers to keep a seven-man breakaway in-check, and on the last of seven local laps, Jasper Stuyven again was at the forefront providing the final touches.
When it was apparent a bunch sprint was in order, Stuyven maneuvered to the front with Pedersen, and in the final meters kicked into high gear. Stuyven provided another rock-solid lead-out even though it was unintentional explained Pedersen.
"Actually, today we tried to go for Jasper (Stuyven) in the sprint, but he opened the sprint a little bit too early, and then I could get a draft from him, and he actually was a good lead-out for me," he laughed. "So it was a surprise to get second – I didn't expect to get any bonus seconds or even get into the top 10, so I am happy with the stage result also."
Max Walscheid (Team Sunweb) won the fast finish, while a crafty Pedersen jumped from Stuyven's wheel at the last moment, and with a burst of speed shot across the line in second place, padding his lead with six bonus seconds to guarantee the overall title.
Pedersen, 21, also laid claim to the Best Young Rider of the race, and easily captured the Points Classification, adding today's second place to his win in stage three and his fourth place in stage four.
However, winning the blue leader's jersey was the one that mattered to Pedersen, who had targeted his home country's race.
"For sure this race means more," answered Pedersen when asked how this win compares to the Tour de Poitou-Charentes. "It's my home country and to ride the race in Denmark with the National Championship jersey on, and all the people, and how they cheer for you…Yeah, this win is really special."
Mads Pedersen will have a short break before leaving Friday for the World Championships Road Race with Denmark, his first time racing in the pro field.