"I was 100 per cent sure that Matteo Trentin would beat me in the sprint," Pedersen says of the fast-finishing Italian rider, who eventually had to settle for the silver medal. "That's also why I took the lead. Plus there was still a small chance for me to win the race, as I knew that when I had the lead in the last kilometre, I could decide the tempo in the corners, so they wouldn't surprise me there, and if we had a crash, they wouldn't hold me up."
Switzerland's Stefan Küng – the third and final member of the leading trio in Harrogate, Yorkshire, on that wet and wild day last September – pulled aside to let Pedersen through to the front with exactly a kilometre left to race. All three riders were clearly exhausted, but the then 23-year-old Dane was still thinking, calculating, concentrating.
"I also knew, with Küng then on the back, Trentin in the middle and me on the front, that Küng would have to come from a long way back to overtake me, so that would be at least three or four metres he'd have to gain to pass me," Pedersen continues. "And I also thought, 'Okay, I only have to look one way: back.' If I'd been in the middle, and had looked back at Küng for one moment, then Trentin, if he'd been at the front, might have opened the sprint and would have then had two metres on me.
"So I decided to take the front so that I had only one way to look, and then when Trentin opened the sprint" – with 200 metres to go – "it was all or nothing. I was ready to try to pass him, and then explode and finish third, rather than not try, and take a sure silver."
What Pedersen describes is nothing short of a technical masterclass in exhausted sprinting from a small group – literally measured in terms of how many metres would need to be made up from being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
This is an extract from the cover interview with Mads Pedersen from the April 2020 edition of Procycling magazine, out now and available to buy here.
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