"Last year's race was my real breakthrough and now that Tadej Pogacar's not here I feel even better" - Mattias Skjelmose keen to improve on 2nd last year at La Fleche Wallonne

Widely touted as one of the favourites for the Amstel Gold Race last weekend, things didn't really go to plan for Mattias Skjelmose. Later this afternoon at La Fleche Wallonne, the Lidl-Trek leader gets his chance to put things right.

"I'm confident from last year," explains the 23-year-old Dane in his pre-race interview, having finished runner-up at La Fleche Wallonne in 2023 behind Tadej Pogacar, who notably won't be here this year, with the Slovenian instead opting to prepare for Liege-Bastogne-Liege in the sunshine. "Last year's race was my real breakthrough and now that Tadej's not here I feel even better. Hopefully I can take a step up."

When asked what are the keys to victory at La Fleche Wallonne, Skjelmose notes two things that would definitely help any rider. "I think for me, you need to have two things and that is great and a great team," he evaluates. "I believe we have both so that's the perfect recipe."

"I feel a lot better. I'm a lot lighter than last year and I would say the team is even better than last year so I'm confident," Skjelmose concludes. "They've removed that other climb so there's more Mur de Huy. That always takes energy so I hope it will be a harder race."

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