Mattias Skjelmose’s Giro diary – Happily through Hungary

The 21-year-old Dane provides updates from his first Grand Tour

Compared to my initial expectations and my tension the night before, the Grande Partenza in Hungary passed without too much difficulty and was really useful to learn my first lesson about Grand Tours: positioning!

I had a clear example of this in the first two road race stages. On both stages, at about 40kms to go, it felt like we had been stuck in place. The pace increased and the space between riders decreased. Where we were, we stayed. I was grateful to have in the team Classics guys like Eddie (Theuns) and Otto (Vergaerde) who, with innate skill, led me through the peloton. Impressive and unseen work and, thanks to it, I wasn’t worried for even a second while riding with them.

Always keeping close to his Belgian 'mates Otto and Eddie - even pre-race!

A solid start: 21st in the Stage 2 time trial, and 10th in the uphill finish of Stage 1.

As I mentioned, so far, we’ve not had the most difficult days, but I have no doubts that it will get harder soon. Tuesday will be the first hectic day of the Giro with Mount Etna. Today, on the transfer day we did a little recon of the road that will take us to the climb. Just to get familiar with the roads of Sicily. The first factor we’ll have to deal with is the wind, which could also create splits in the peloton. It will make the stage more exciting. Then, the climb will come.

Usually, when I’m about to race unknown climbs, I do some research and maybe check some of the finishes from previous years on the internet. In this sense, Mount Etna is a fairly straightforward climb compared to others. But tomorrow will be the first summit finish and we have to take that into account. It will be interesting to see who will be in front.

Before finishing, I want to dedicate a final thought to something that I will take with me from this debut – the incredible pink mass of Hungarian fans. So many people, so much passion, so much warmth. Even if we were not in Italy, I really felt that the Giro is a different race from the others.

 

Read more of Mattias’ Giro diary – The eve before the Grande Partenza.

A blend of fans and racers.