After his stage won at Etoile de Bessèges, the Dane left another mark in France with victory on the second stage in the Cote d’Azur.
There’s certainly a connection between Mattias Skjelmose and France. The Danish rider from Trek-Segafredo claimed his second race of the season (in only two races) by winning the reduced sprint on the second stage of Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var. Two weeks ago, at Etoile de Bessèges, he did more or less the same thing, winning the sprint against Powless (EF-EasyPost).
Today (18 February), in Antibes, Skjelmose played his cards perfectly, showing once again that he’s in brilliant condition and keeping a very cool head in the key moment of the race. The win came after a small group sprint that included the best riders present at the race. After, the last attack – by race leader Vauquelin (Arkèa-Samsic) and Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) – was caught at 500 meters to the line, Mattias showed off his strengths choosing the right position and the perfect timing to sprint.
— Trek-Segafredo (@TrekSegafredo) February 18, 2023
With one stage to go, Skjelmose is now sitting in 5th position in the General Classification at 27” from the leader Vauquelin and 13” from Geniets (Groupama-FDJ) who’s sitting third. Mattias is also the leader of the Points Classification.
For tomorrow (‘the day of the truth’), the menu includes 131kms from Villefranche-sur-Mer to Vence with four KOMs, the last of which comes at 7kms to go). In short: the game for the GC is still wide open!
Well, I don’t think I need to say how happy I am about today’s win, I think it’s obvious. It was not really expected so it feels super. In general, I’m really pleased with how I have started the season.
Yesterday, I was disappointed in the finale. I was sleeping in the key moment of the race when Vauquelin attacked. I had to be there and I wasn’t so today, I was motivated not to do the same and to really make the most out of this opportunity and get the best out of my abilities. That’s what happened.
It was a very hard day, right from the beginning. It took a while for a breakaway to form and then the peloton kept it under control. The guys in front went really fast, it was stressful all day. We did not have a moment to breathe.
Vauquelin went really hard in the final and when he attacked, I said to myself to keep calm. I had the feeling that I was the fastest guy in that small group, but if I would have closed the gap immediately, I would have lost my chance to win in favor of the others. It was tricky, it was a risk, but I waited for the move from the other riders to catch him. I found myself in a great position for the sprint and I finished it off.
It wasn’t really necessary to have someone lead me out on this occasion, it was more a one-to-one challenge. However, I want to say thanks to my teammates for the efforts they all did behind the scenes to support me, helping me save energy for the finale.