Itzulia Basque Country: the next step in Skjelmose’s Spring

After a solid start to the season, crowned with a stage victory at Paris-Nice, Mattias Skjelmose is ready to get back into the game in the Spanish race (April 1st until the 6th) with his eyes fixed on his big target of Spring: the Ardennes Classics.


Spring is coming into full swing. Mattias, how are you?

The weeks after Paris-Nice gave me the chance to take a breath, to take stock with my coach and nutritionist before some more altitude training in view of this upcoming block of races. I had only one night in my own bad, but these are the sacrifices needed to prepare for the big goals I am pursuing. I am super motivated. I see Itzulia Basque Country as the ideal approach to the most important events of my Spring season, the Ardennes Classics. It is an exciting prospect, and I am going to Spain to do an all-in performance.

Mattias sprinting to win stage 6 of Paris-Nice (©GettyImages)

After Paris-Nice, you’ll face another challenge with some of the best GC riders. How do you see yourself against this competition?

I’m happy about it. When I race, I always want to prove myself and doing it by comparing myself with the best, it’s just added value. It’s a stimulus and helps me to understand where I am. I’ll compete with many riders similar to me, both in terms of characteristics and ambitions. We’ll be looking for a great performance to win here and to approach the Ardennes races with morale and the right form. I expect a hectic challenge.


What did you learn from last year’s experience?

2023 was my first experience at Itzulia Basque Country and it was very useful for my growth, although it ended with a bittersweet feeling. I was third in GC before the final stage and then, a single bad day, ruined my ambitions for a podium finish. I struggled a lot that day, I suffered, but it helped me. I had one, single crack, caused more by my state of mind than by my legs. It was hard but useful, because I dealt with it, I gained confidence and then I went to the Ardennes with new motivation. At the end, some great results came in Belgium.

Skjelmose in his debut at Ardèche Classic (@GettyImages)

Itzulia Basque Country is well known for its hectic stages. How do you see this year course?

Compared to the last editions, it looks a bit easier on paper, but in the Basque Country there are no easy days and I’ve no doubts that also this year we’ll have an exciting and spectacular race. The presence of an ITT is me really nice. TT races are a specialty in which I know I can perform well and for which I have worked hard over the winter. It’s definitely a nice course but to get the most of the six days of racing, we will need to race smart.


Now Spain, but soon you’ll be in Belgium again…

Yes, the Ardennes Classics are my big goal, Liège-Bastogne-Liège in particular. It’s the only monument together with Il Lombardia for riders with my characteristics. An exciting period is coming for me, these are great races! Last year, I collected very good result in the three races, the podium at Flèche Wallonne above all. I am really looking forward for these races again. The first part of the season went by super-fast, between training camps and races. It’s the first time I’ve approached the season in this way, but I think the choice has paid off so far. Now, there is one more step to take and I feel ready for it.