Skjelmose third in GC at Itzulia Basque Country

In a heated challenge, Skjelmose battled till the very end

Mattias Skjelmose’s GC challenge in the Itzulia Basque Country ends without regrets. The explosive sixth and final stage, which saw the young Dane start in the leader’s jersey, lived up to his expectations of a decisive day. With the first five riders, led by Skjelmose, sitting within just 8″ (followed by 18 other riders within just a minute), the challenge was played from the first climb, in a crescendo that then turned into a head-to-head confrontation.

Ayuso (UAE) came up as the winner, the one who along with compatriot Rodriguez (INEOS) animated the race finale. The two Spanish riders crossed the finish line second and first, with a lead of 41″ over the group of Skjelmose, fourth at the line and passed at the photo finish by Soler (UAE). With only 4″ to close on the Dane, Ayuso clearly won the overall classification, while for the second step of the podium the challenge was played out on the edge of a single second. That was enough for Rodriguez to secure it, thanks to the time bonus he got as stage winner (10″) and, unfortunately, the third place missed by Mattias.

At the end of day, anyway, no regrets for Skjelmose. He ended an important race with a solid performance, giving another proof his growth.

First of all, I want to thank my teammates for the great job they did; they worked perfectly. We couldn't have done anything better. I was just missing the legs in the end and that's how it is. I think today Carlos [Rodriguez] was really the leader. A big ride. He helped me coming back without him needing to. And that was really a big thing of him and I'm really happy he won the stage. Unfortunately, I didn't have the legs the second time when they went, but I fought to the end, and that was the most important.

In the end, I'm happy to be on the podium. I’m convinced that, in a so hard race, it's still a big performance. And even though it wasn't what we hoped for, it's still a podium in a WorldTour race.

Mattias Skjelmose