NICKI SLAMS NIELSEN OVER DANISH TEAM EXILE
Nicki Pedersen says he wouldn’t rule out racing for Denmark again, but admits a battle with team manager Hans Nielsen has put him off.
19 / 01 / 2018, 12:43
Triple world champion Nicki Pedersen says he wouldn’t rule out racing for his country again, but admits a battle with team manager Hans Nielsen has turned him off national team duty.
The Dane has won four FIM Speedway World Cup gold medals with the Danes but hasn’t flown the flag in team competition since the 2015 Monster Energy SWC Final at Vojens.
Pedersen had an understanding with former boss Anders Secher that he could sit out Denmark’s opening-round meeting and return to the side to compete in the Race Off and/or Final.
The way it is now, I won’t be one of the guys stepping up. If they want me to step up, I’d have that discussion. But it would have to be a very good discussion.
But when Nielsen took over in 2016, he opted not to recall Pedersen for the Race Off in Manchester, sticking with the quartet that got Denmark through Event 1.
Since he has been absent from the side, Denmark have not appeared in a Monster Energy SWC Final, dropping out in the 2016 Race Off and suffering a shock elimination at the hands of Latvia at Event 2 in Vastervik last year.
Pedersen was injured at the time of last season’s tournament. Asked if he would consider a comeback for his country this summer, he said: “I always say ‘never say never.’ I learnt that phrase when I used to live in England. But at the moment, the way they’re running the squad and the way they’re running the system, I don’t want to be involved in that.
“I believe it should be ‘let the best man win’ and let the best team be on track. I just want to be on the team if I’m good enough and if not, I don’t want to be in there. It should be on ability – not politics, and I think that’s down to Hans Nielsen. He wanted to show who’s the man.”
While some may question his commitment for not racing the whole tournament, Pedersen remains far from happy Nielsen declined to honour a deal made by predecessor Secher.
He said: “That’s what I had done for many, many years. The manager would try one of the young guys. Then I would come into the side for the semi or final. I had done that with the other team managers over the years. I won four World Championships with those team managers – two with Anders Secher and two with Jan Staechmann.
“I respect that Hans doesn’t want to have things like that. But he came in at the last minute and just wanted to show who he was. We had that deal already done in the winter.
“Hans said ‘if you don’t want to race in the first one, you’re not in the next one.’ So I said ‘fair play, I respect that. But I still won’t be in the first one.’ He then called me back and said ‘we’ve discussed it in the federation and you’ll still be in the squad. We might pick you.’
“But I always stand to what I’m saying. Whatever I say, that’s what I feel and what I’m doing. He thought he could frighten me and I’d change my mind. But I never change my mind. That was the start of it.
“I don’t have any bad feeling with him. But with the way it’s going, I don’t want to be a part of it.
“I’m not saying I’m right or he’s right. But you’ve got to have that communication. If you don’t have communication, you never come to the right point. I think it’s only his way all the time. He doesn’t want to take any knowledge or my experience – what I have been through in the last 10 years.
“I respect what he has done, but being a racer and being a coach are two different things.”
Pedersen is determined to bounce back from spending the best part of 18 months on the sidelines with neck damage. And if he hits form, leaving him out of the national team could be a tough move for Nielsen.
Asked if he’d consider a recall, Pedersen said: “I’m not completely stupid. If I’m good enough and I think at the time I should be there … that’s why I never say never.
“The way it is now, I won’t be one of the guys stepping up. If they want me to step up, I’d have that discussion. But it would have to be a very good discussion.”