Young Dane wins Tour of Luxembourg TT and moves into race lead with one stage remaining
After a remarkable second season as a professional, Mattias Skjelmose finally achieved a major milestone in his career – his first professional win. Skjelmose stopped the clock on the hilly time trial in 34’05”, three seconds faster than his closest competitor on the day. Additionally, Skjelmose’s effort was enough to overcome his deficit in the general classification and position him as the new race leader by three seconds with one stage to come.
Speaking immediately after his win was confirmed, Skjelmose said: “This [victory] means a lot! I’ve been close; I can’t even remember how many times this year. We really believed I could win this one and it was a big goal coming in to the race. To finish this off is just amazing. I can’t really describe it. We knew it would be a really painful way home with 8 kilometers slightly headwind, and also a painful start with a very steep climb, so it was all about pacing this one. I was a little bit conservative on the way out, I tried to keep a little bit [of energy], and then just closed my eyes and went all out the last eight ks on the flat part. To be honest I haven’t been feeling super this week, but I have the power. It was the same yesterday, I don’t know why. But obviously the bike is going fast and that is the most important.”
Skjelmose came close to victory yesterday with a gutsy late attack but was brough back in the final kilometer. Despite a very impressive season of several podium placings, the highly sought after first pro win managed to elude Skjelmose until today. Along with his Trek-Segafredo team, the Danish neo-pro has one stage remaining to defend the lead, hoping to double his win tally with a GC victory.
“The strategy tomorrow is to keep [the leader jersey], but it’s going to be difficult. We saw Madouas and Geniets are looking really strong. And [Vauquelin] finishing second today is also looking really really strong. I hope we can have some allies in those looking for a stage result, because otherwise it’s going to be really difficult being one and half men down.
The first professional victory is something every rider chases, and also remembers for the remainder of their career. For Mattias, it’s been a long time coming after a season full of ‘nearly-wins’, but finally his frustration has turned to joy, and we’re sure there will be plenty more to celebrate through his career.
“It’s really special. I have been close so many times this year and at one point I thought I wouldn’t get it. But It’s finally here and I can’t describe this. It’s really nice to have the first one crossed off and hopefully I will have many more in my career.
“Two days ago it was my 28th top 10 finish this year without a win, and in the end you race to win all the time. It’s your childhood dream. It’s why I want to be a pro to win races and to finally have it, is really special. I mean, I am just so happy! Also for the people at home who have sacrificed so much, for them this also means so much. They have given up their own dreams to have me at the best form possible, and without them I could not have done this. This is a mix of everything: happiness and to finally give something back to people that support me all the time. Just to crack the first win hopefully means I can hope for more. The team has not given me any pressure, they have given me a lot of chances.”