Late at night, shortly before going to bed and in anticipation of stage 6 of Tirreno-Adriatico, Mads Würtz Schmidt asked for a quick meeting with his sports director, Nicki Sorenson.
They have a very tight bond, Nicki and Mads – the DS and his rider. More than just the connection of being Danish countrymen, Mads credits Sorensen for his progress over the last year.
And he already had a great race in Tirreno to show for it. Just 24-hours earlier, he went more than 200 km in a breakaway before escaping solo on the mountaintop finish, only to be caught by the favorites five kilometers before the finish line.
Now he wanted to ask Sorensen to let him try again. “He felt like he had the legs to go for it, to try to win from the breakaway,” recalled Sorensen. “I knew it was a tough task, but I trusted that he could do it again. He has the ability and the desire to back it up with.”
So, there he was on the day, trying from the get-go. And it was far from easy. Mads explains, “First, I went for a breakaway with two guys, and we fought for 20 minutes, but we never got away.” Then he tried twice more. On the fourth go, it finally worked. Later he told Nicki how exhausted he was, but it got better as the kilometers went by, and the gap stayed sizeable. “We worked very well and very hard together the whole stage,” said Mads about his five partners.
The peloton was either too disorganized or too exhausted to contest. Whichever the reason, no team committed to taking on the chase, so when the last few laps in the 146 km stage came and went, it was more and apparent to Mads that they might fight for the win by themselves.
“When we started the last lap, I knew it was possible. But when I got the message that the peloton slowed down, I focused on the final. When we finally dropped the sprinter Emils Liepins (Trek-Segafredo) on the last hill, I knew that I was now the fastest rider in the sprint, so I made sure that I would execute it.”
Mads: “I made sure to get out of the last corner in the second position and start the sprint, not to get surprised by anyone. And it worked just perfectly!”
It was such a rewarding victory for the whole team; the ISN seven were all on the top of their games from day one.
Mads: “It was the best win of my career – my first win in the WorldTour. I have been fighting for this since I turned pro five years ago. Since working with Nicki Sorensen and the others on the team, I have felt super good and I’ve gotten better over the last year, so this win is incredible for the whole team and me. It’s our first WorldTour victory this season, and I am sure that we will have many more.”