Having nearly fluffed his lines after mistakenly attacking after team-mate Tiesj Benoot was already up the road, not even an empty final 100m could ruin the relief Søren Kragh Andersen felt as he won stage 14 of the 2020 Tour de France.
“Luckily I didn’t ruin anything,” the Dane half-joked after he pulled off a perfect attack in the closing kilometres to double Sunweb’s stage win tally this Tour.
“On the radio they said ‘Tiesj go go go!’, I was a little behind and didn’t see him go so was pushing through to go myself. Then I went and saw him ahead and stopped when I saw him.”
Sunweb hit out multiple times as the peloton hit two tricky fourth category climbs on the run-in to Lyon, with Benoot and stage 12 winner Marc Hirschi chancing their arm and softening up the bunch before their team-mate’s successful attack.
Boasting a number of powerful riders clearly capable of pulling off such race-winning moves, how do they decide who gets to finish off the job?
“There’s not really a reason, we just had a general plan of racing aggressive and keeping Casper for the sprint,” Kragh Andersen said of how the team decided he would be the last to attack. “For the rest it’s just instinct.
“For me, I also felt over the first climb it was hard to make the difference and I knew in my head to wait and go when I did and not doubt myself. I waited, waited, waited, and hoped the moment would come, and that I had the legs also to finish it off. it was the perfect moment to attack.”
Confidence is something Kragh Andersen says he’s finally found on stage 14, saying in his flash interview that believing in himself has taken its time during the race.
“I had really good legs the whole day, of course you never know how good the other guys are, it took me a while to get confidence in this Tour, but also even if I felt I was suffering you know the other guys must be suffering too.”
With more rigorous restrictions placed on the Tour de France as the race heads back into a coronavirus red zone, fans were banned from the final 100m, meaning Kragh Andersen had to celebrate on his own, no that he minded at all.
“I realised [the absence of fans] because in the last descent around the fast right-hand corner it was full of people, really nice crowds screaming loud,” the 26-year-old said. “And then when I got to the finish line I celebrated alone. It doesn’t matter, it’s the same emotions.”