You’d be forgiven if you hadn’t heard of the Ukrainian Mark Padun before these last two days at the Critérium du Dauphiné, but if you’re going to announce yourself to the WorldTour there are few better ways than how he's done it.
On the penultimate stage seven he joined an attack from the group of overall contenders and stole away up the road, dispatching Sepp Kuss and holding off an unfurling GC battle to take a breakthrough victory.
After the finish he said how he’d gone on the offensive so his mum would at least get to see him on TV, having overcome problems with his knees to finally make an impression at the professional level. He went on to explain to reporters how he’d recently shed nearly five kilograms to improve his power-to-weight ratio, and the next it seemed like he’d also shrugged off any inhibitions about what he was capable of as he got himself into the day’s break, deciding on the hoof to go for KOM points before taking a remarkable second victory in as many days.
“I tried to forget about what I did and to focus on today,” Padun said after the finish. “The plan was to go in the breakaway and maybe help Jack Haig for the GC battle on the final climb. I figured why not go for the KOM points too.”
After accumulating enough KOM points to usurp EF’s Lawson Craddock as the leader of that classification, Padun said it had never felt so easy on the bike, as he outlasted a number of talented fellow collaborators to finish more than a minute ahead of the next closest men on the road.
“We had more than two minutes for the last climb and everything went so easy for me. I've never felt so easy on the bike in such a race,” Padun said. “Physically, it’s hard but mentally I've never felt so good. I’m a young rider. I had a lot of problems with my weight in the past. I struggled after an altitude camp and then I found myself with great legs.
“It’s a dream. It’s really really incredible. I still feel yesterday’s victory was unbelievable, it left me with so much adrenaline.”
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