Despite unfortunate circumstances, the Danish rider managed to finish sixth in a tough stage 3 of the Spanish race
A cool head and determination were the ingredients that Mattias Skjelmose used today to handle the hectic finale of the third stage of Itzulia Basque Country. The young Dane crossed the finish line – at the top of a 500-meter kick with a maximum gradient of 26% – in sixth place, 10 seconds behind winner Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma), but an unfortunate puncture could have cost him a better result.
“I’d say it all happened in the last 200 meters,” explained Skjelmose.
“The whole day was really hard but, in the end, it’s just about the legs when you hit these kind of gradients. I think mine performed well. Finishing sixth with such a small short gap to Vingegaard is quite a good result. I would have liked to have had some more luck and avoided the puncture I had at 9 kilometers to go. Luckily, Bauke [Mollema] was nearby and could give me his bike. It was not optimal, and I was not 100% confident with a different sized bike, but in the end we minimized the losses. I wouldn’t have been with Jonas, but I’m sure I would have been closer”.
Skjelmose and Trek-Segafredo have shown they have the right mindset to try to play their chances in the General Classification all the way, especially in a race where the final gaps will be minimal and time bonuses could make all the difference.
With three stages to go, Mattias is seventh, 22 seconds behind compatriot Vingegaard, and he also leads the best young rider’s ranking.
“At the end, I think we can be happy on how we rode today. The team did a great job supporting me. They did everything they could, especially our road captain Tony [Gallopin]. I was really impressed with the power he showed today, he deserves praise for the way he kept fighting on every climb,”
“The position I have now in the GC is good. I have some very top class riders ahead of me, but there’s a still a long way to the end of the race on Saturday. With the legs I had today, I’m confident I have the chance to go further.”