Victory in the sprint and new Paris-Nice yellow jersey: Mads Pedersen scored a double blow on Monday in Fontainebleau where Tadej Pogacar continued to gain time in the general classification.
The Dane won at the photo finish ahead of Dutchman Olav Kooij (Jumbo-Visma) and his compatriot Magnus Cort (EF Education) after a disjointed last kilometer marked by a fall involving several runners, including Benjamin Thomas, just before the red flame.
“It looks easy on TV but it’s the worst kind of sprint you can have: 10 km straight and then a bend just before the finish. We entered a washing machine, it was really very nervous,” commented the Trek-Segafredo sprinter.
The former world champion, whose second stage victory in the “Race to the Sun” after 2022, then spent a lot of time on the podium to first receive the stage winner’s bouquet before d successively put on the yellow leader’s jersey and the green best sprinter’s jersey.
“It bodes well for the season. It’s a great race, it’s great to win here. I came here to win a stage, it’s done,” added the one who also won this year the stopwatch on the Etoile de Bessèges.
The distinctive fourth jersey, the white of the best young rider, went to a rider who we sometimes forget is still only 24 years old, his record is already overflowing everywhere. This is obviously Tadej Pogacar, double winner of the Tour de France in 2020 and 2021, who continued his harvest on Monday by pocketing, like the day before, the six bonus seconds in the intermediate sprint.
– “Every second counts” –
“Every second counts. I took six. It’s a small margin, but it can turn out to be significant, you never know,” said “Pogi”.
Second overall, two seconds behind Pedersen, he is now twelve seconds ahead of Dane Jonas Vingegaard. As if he wanted to get a little ahead of his great rival who had stripped him of his crown in the last Tour de France and who will start as the favorite with his Jumbo-Visma team on Tuesday in the unprecedented team time trial. concocted by the organizers.
Rather than taking the time on the fourth or fifth runner, the clock will be stopped as soon as the first runner has passed after the 32.2 kilometers of effort around Dampierre-en-Burly, in Loiret.
While most riders believe this shouldn’t be a game-changer, the new formula could favor a team as powerful as Jumbo-Visma which will also field Tobias Foss and Rohan Dennis, the current and former reigning world champion of the stopwatch.
“I don’t know what it will give, nuanced Pedersen. Very strong teams may find it unfortunate that only one guy is enough to finish. For teams like ours, which does not have the potential to grab the Top 3, that can be a good thing. Anyway, it’s good for the organizers to try something new.”
The stage will pass a few kilometers from the Dampierre-en-Burly nuclear power plant on a day when opponents of pension reform will want to put “France at a standstill”.
The mobilization day is already having a slight impact on Paris-Nice since the starting order has been modified, with an interval of three minutes between each formation instead of the five planned, “in order to facilitate the work of the forces of order which will be widely requested”, indicated the organizers.