Mads Pedersen: More aggressive Milan-San Remo suits me better than before

Lidl-Trek's Classics star hoping to be part of the selection on the climbs on Saturday

Clock11:38, Friday 15th March 2024
Mads Pedersen has had a successful start to his season, but the biggest races are only just beginning

© Getty Images

Mads Pedersen has had a successful start to his season, but the biggest races are only just beginning

Heading into Milan-San Remo as one of the favourites on Saturday, Mads Pedersen (Lidl-Trek) is going into the race with an open mind, but hoping to make it into a select group as the race splits up over the Cipressa and Poggio.

Though the Dane is one of the fastest finishers in the bunch, Pedersen is not hoping for – nor anticipating – a bunch finish, noting that the more aggressive editions of recent years are more suited to his capabilities.

“I think it suits me better now than it did some years ago, for sure,” he told the media on Thursday. “But yeah, we saw in the last couple of years that the attacks are also hard to follow, especially last year, it was incredible what Mathieu [van der Poel] did and also the attacks from [Tadej] Pogačar. So it suits me better definitely than it would have done some years ago, but it's still not easy, you still have to follow some pretty strong riders to make the attacks.”

Although the world’s best sprinters continue to flock to the start line of Milan-San Remo year after year, a fast man hasn’t won from a bunch kick since 2016, with solo or small moves finding increasing success in San Remo.

“I don't see a big group coming in, hopefully a smaller group with me and a teammate in. That's the dream scenario for me,” Pedersen said, pointing towards his preference for a more selective race.

“In the past, San Remo was called the sprinters' Classic. But you know, cycling has changed and also the Classics have changed, when a guy like [Tadej] Pogačar shows up, now the climbers can do cobblestones as well. It's definitely not a sprinters' Classic anymore, and I don't think for the next many years we will see a big bunch sprinting in San Remo.”

Whilst the Dane will hope to be in the selection that goes to the line, and ideally take a teammate with him, a key part of his approach is also to have an open mind, rather than fixate on one plan when the racing is anything but predictable.

“I really take the race as it comes,” he said. “I think it’s too hard a game to spend energy thinking about a scenario and then it doesn’t happen, being forced to change the way of racing I had in my head. I really just want to focus on myself and doing as best as possible. With this in my mind, I know I can win the race if it comes to a sprint between a group of 5 or 15 riders. At least, I have to believe in it. Milan-San Remo is a super hard race that suits me well so, I don’t care how the race is raced as long as I’m racing to win."

Following Van der Poel and Pogačar

Standing in the way of Pedersen’s hopes of victory are two of the biggest and strongest stars of the sport, Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) and Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), who are both expected to animate the race’s hardest moments on Saturday.

Though being able to follow one or both of these riders may be key to victory, Pedersen, who has wider goals for the year, says he had not specifically focused on the climbing which was his undoing in last year’s race.

“To be honest, I didn't do any focused preparation for that last part. I just blew the engine last year on the Poggio. I don't know exactly if it would help me to train specifically for that attack Mathieu or Pogi would come with, so I just try to be in general better and hopefully that's enough to follow them if they do the same again,” he said.

In fact, Pedersen says he has changed very little in preparation for the Classics compared to last year, and it’s just the fact that a tried-and-tested approach has gone better than ever that is the reason for his early season success.

“I didn't change anything to be honest. Of course, I did Provence this year, so three or four more race days, but basically, the rest is the same. Same training camp, same races, same training philosophy, so not a lot of changes, I just still believe that I'm good enough to win the race one day," he said, having finished sixth in both of the last two editions.

I also believe that the recipe we did in the last couple of years to perform in this race was good enough, so we kept doing that.”

Though San Remo will be a big goal for Pedersen, there are plenty more of those in the coming weeks, with the Dane racing a full complement of Classics and looking to add some big wins to the six victories he has already notched up in 2024.

It may seem difficult to tackle such a busy schedule of big races, and try to peak at the right moments, but for Pedersen, his attitude is simple.

“I think I changed my philosophy a few years ago. Basically [now] every chance I have to win a race I try to win. And that also counts in races like this,” he explained. “It doesn't matter if it's a Monument or a smaller race, I'm there on the start line to win the race, so that's the philosophy for all the races I'm doing in the next weeks. Of course, I know that it's not possible to win everything, but at least I or we as a team should have that goal to win when we are at the start line.”

You can check out our dedicated race page for Milan-San Remo, to discover the route, startlist and our official preview.

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