Mattias Skjelmose’s Giro diary – The eve before the Grande Partenza

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

It’s the eve of the Giro d’Italia and my emotions are reaching their peak: excitement, nervousness and, in part, fear. Tomorrow starts the first Grand Tour of my career, the biggest race for me so far. I’ve heard all about Grand Tours from older colleagues or former racers: advice, impressions, experiences – I’ve heard so many variations. But now comes the moment of truth; the one where I will feel for myself what it means to race a GT.

This feels similar to my debut as a professional. However, compared to that day, the scare factor is much greater because I have no idea how my body will respond to the hardness and fatigue of a three-week race. I think it’s natural for a human to feel uncomfortable in front of the unknown. I won’t hide it: I am frightened, and, deep down, I wonder if I will be up to this challenge?

I won't hide it: I am frightened, and, deep down, I wonder if I will be up to this challenge?

Experience and youth: Bauke and Mattias await the Teams Presentation in the Heroes' Square in Budapest

In this sense of uncertainty, I take comfort in the fact that everything I could and should have done to prepare, I did. I’ve been thinking about it since June of last year when I was first told about the possibility of racing the Giro. In December, the team confirmed their intention to take me there, and from that moment on my long preparation for the event began. Physical and mental preparation. The hard work I’ve done to get to this day is behind me and now…  Yes, I’m ready!

I tried to get an idea of the Giro by delving into the characteristics of the route and the history of the race. What impressed me the most is the gap at the end of the race in the general classification’s top 10. The gap, in terms of time, between first and the tenth, has always been massive and something you don’t see in other races. Last year it was something like 18 minutes! I think this depends on the hardness of the race, the climbs, the weather, and the pitfalls. It’s a factor that also makes me think about how important it is to never give up. If a bad day comes, you have to put it aside and look forward to the next stage.

Dario Cataldo, Mattias Skjelmose, Giulio Ciccone and Amanuel Gebreigzabhier during the 2022 Volta Ciclista a Catalunya.

I don’t think it will be like walking in the park on a Sunday morning; far from it. I want to try and enjoy every day of racing, but I also know that I would like to get the best result every time. And this will not always be possible. Managing these very personal high expectations will be one of the biggest challenges for me.

At the end of this Giro, I will be happy if I make it successfully to Verona. It would be a big step forward for me, for my growth, for my career. Finishing my first GT and still having legs for the rest of the season is my stated goal. We’ll find out the rest as we go along.