Trek-Segafredo defend yellow on the final day and land Mattias his first GC victory
Mattias Skjelmose and his teammates successfully defended a precarious three-second lead in Stage 5 of the Skoda Tour of Luxembourg to win the general classification of the five-day race.
“I am super happy! I am 21, I turn 22 later this month, and it’s a really big race for me. Tomorrow I go to the World Championships and I don’t think you could have a better preparation than this, so yeah, I’m super happy,” exclaimed Skjelmose.
“I think we did a really good job as a team to control it and limited to what I had to do until the last climb. When it’s so steep it’s all about the legs, and luckily mine were good today.”
After a four-man breakaway was contained in the ending kilometers and a late antagonist tagged back, the bonus seconds on the line posed the biggest threat to Skjelmose.
The young Dane needed to be attentive in the final uphill sprint as Kévin Vauquelin was only three seconds in arrears. With 10, 6, and 4 seconds on the line for the top three places, the best defense for Mattias was offense – finish ahead of Vauquelin and the title was his.
The first attack on the climb to the line came with 1400 meters to go and it came from Valentin Madouas, who won Stage 1 and led the race for the first three days. It drew out the four strongest: Vauquelin, Skjelmose and Kevin Geniets, Madouas’ teammate.
Skjelmose explained: “On the last climb, I had to go deep, that’s for sure. It was all about positioning. I remember in Denmark we had a similar finish like this, and afterward, I spoke with my teammate Alex Kirsch, and he told me that you have to be up there and believe that this is your spot. So that was all I had in mind today. I had to fight for position before the last climb, but I think that was what made the difference. One or two positions further back and it would have been a difficult situation.”
The road leveled before it punched up again, and Skjelmose decided to take the race into his hands. With 250 meters to go, he jumped. Leading out the sprint this early seemed dangerous, but only Madouas was able to overtake the young Dane.
“At first, I was shit! I opened up the sprint too early. But then I saw it was Madouas going past me. I saw Vauquelin on the left, but I knew that if he was second and me third I would still win. In the end it was not so bad as it looked like,” explained Skjelmose.
Skjelmose held on for second place and sealed his second pro win, and first stage race GC, in two days – a significant achievement for the promising Dane.
“I am still very young, and I still have time to develop,” pointed out Mattias. “This year I showed I am good in one-week races, and the team wants to see me develop into a Grand Tour rider. I took a huge step after the Giro and if I can keep making these steps, I am really confident I will be a really good rider in the future, and go for a Grand Tour win. That’s the dream and what I will fight for.”
Well done @skjelmose_ , well done Team 👏👏
Mattias just won the 2022 #SkodaTour 🇱🇺 pic.twitter.com/p1vOFCzCba
— Trek-Segafredo (@TrekSegafredo) September 17, 2022
Of course, Mattias added the Tour of Luxembourg best young rider jersey to his collection, too.