"I race to win, so that's nice" - Mads Pedersen shows strong pre-Tour de France form with sprint win at Criterium du Dauphine

In his return to racing for the first time since Paris-Roubaix, Lidl-Trek superstar Mads Pedersen powered to victory on the opening stage of the 2024 Criterium du Dauphine, showing some strong pre-Tour de France form.

"I like races in France, from big to small. It's always well-organised and fun racing, so then it's also nice to win," reflected the former world champion in his post-stage interview, adding an eighth win of the season to his ever-growing palmares in style. "Carlos Verona rode well in the lead all day. "Even with two men in the lead we rode very hard, then Alex Kirsch watched the lead-out to perfection. Toms Skujins also did a great job before him and Ryan ended up setting me off well last, so it was a leadout straight out of the book."

With very few sprint opportunities at the 2024 Criterium du Dauphine, it was imperative that the sprinters in the peloton made the most of the opening stage. As such, the final sprint battle was fierce, with Pedersen eventually taking the win ahead of Sam Bennett and Hugo Page. "Every win gives confidence. I cycle to win, so that's nice," Pedersen assesses.

With a massive week of climbing to come however, the Dane realises he's unlikely to spend very long in the leaders jersey. "I don't think it will be for me," he laughs. "As leader, nobody is going to let me in the breakaway either, so we will control to honour the jersey. In doing so, we also have two classification leaders (Tao Geoghegan Hart and Giulio Ciccone ed.) and that will also be part of my task."

Opting for a different pre-Tour de France plan this year, Pedersen skipped the Giro d'Italia and opted for a long rest ahead of the Dauphine. If this stage is anything to go by, the choice was the right one.

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