Lidl by Lidl: Mads Pedersen delivers 'incredible' first victory for Lidl-Trek at Tour de France

The Danish rider showed he can compete with the fastest in the world by outsprinting Jasper Philipsen on Saturday

Mads Pedersen waving on the Tour de France podium
(Image credit: Getty)

On Saturday morning, Mads Pedersen had time before the start of stage eight of the Tour de France to play basketball with the Dutch YouTubers Tour de Tietema in Libourne. While the likes of Wout van Aert or Mathieu van der Poel prepared on their buses, the Dane was saying "f*** it, we go big", and netting three pointers.

On Saturday evening, Pedersen was basking in the glory of his second Tour stage win, after he beat the race's fastest man - Jasper Philipsen - to victory in Limoges. The Lidl-Trek rider has now won at least one stage at every Grand Tour he has raced since last year's Tour, six in total, confirming his status as one of the nailed-on winners of the sport.

"The boys did such a good job, this final suits me better than other finals," he said. "Those easy days with high speed and fast finishes are not easy for me, but it’s possible for me to aim for the win. Today I showed what happens when I have the power to go for the win. The boys did a perfect leadout in the last five kilometres."

The 2019 world champion might not be the man for the bunch sprints, but has shown that he can beat the fastest in the world when required. Alpecin-Deceuninck's Philipsen had won five sprint finishes at the Tour in a row, so overcoming him is some feat.

Asked when he knew he had beaten the Belgian, Pedersen said: "I was sure when I passed the finish line, my legs were empty in the last 50m. I saw wheels on the left side, I didn’t know it was Jasper, I just saw these white tyre walls, normally a guy from Alpecin or Jumbo, and thought ah s*** now they’re coming, luckily for me his legs were also getting empty the last 50m.

"I am just so happy to win. Jasper came really strong and fast in the end. He also hit the wall in last 50 or 75m."

Not that Pedersen was under much pressure to deliver - he is a proven winner - but there was a special animus to perform at this year's Tour, now Lidl are onboard as title sponsors.

In the context of a sport full of petrochemical companies and sovereign states, the arrival of Lidl was a refreshing one, a reminder that for European companies, sponsoring a cycling team is a worthwhile endeavour.

The name switch happened just before the biggest race of the year, the Tour de France, so Lidl-Trek's funky new jersey has been all over television screens for the past week. While the new colours and the team's stand of Lidl produce outside its bus every day has been causing a stir, there had not yet been the result the new sponsors needed at this race, to really announce themselves in cycling. Saturday's win proved that the men's partnership with Lidl would be more than new colours and marketing stunts.

"The Tour is the biggest race we do during the season," Pedersen explained. "All you guys are here, it’s such a big race, so important for the team, so to win another stage in the Tour is incredible. Even if I didn't get victory in the Giro or Vuelta, it is super nice to win in the Tour. It’s so nice to start this relationship with Lidl in a really good way, open the bank account of victories in a new direction with new sponsors on the jersey."

It is usual for riders to utter banalities about sponsors, but one gets the impression that this Lidl-Trek team is really keen on their new partners; a new injection of cash, a new start. The women's team at the Giro d'Italia Donne went as far as creating the word Lidl out of body shapes, and their first winner, Elisa Longo Borghini, punned that she was a "Lidl emotional" after her stage win there last week.

Pedersen, and his Trek team, will not be content with just one victory at this year's race. Now they've done it once, there is no reason it could not happen again - if not with the Dane, then some of his teammates more suited to climbing.

"For sure there will be a few [more opportunities], but also more breakaway days," he explained. "After the rest day, there are a few days of good opportunities to go on the break. The rest day will not be a real rest day, I will be keeping legs running for stage 10. The pressure is a bit off now, so we will keep trying, keep going for it, we can win some more."

If this was Pedersen with the pressure on, it might be a fruitful remainder of the race for his Trek team now he can relax into his stature as a serial winner at the world's biggest event.

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