With five wins this season including a terrific run of recent form, Trek - Segafredo's Mattias Skjelmose comes into the Tour de France with high ambitions. The American team look to control and be realistic on his Tour debut, despite the immense amount of talent he has been showing lately.
“I know Skjelmose pretty well. I have ridden with him and have been working quite a lot with him lately on his time trial. I went to the wind tunnel with him and then made the car journey from Paris to Andorra," Koen de Kort said in an interview with In de Leiderstrui. "It would be great to finish third, but we don't expect that. He is a super-focused rider, who knows exactly what to do and what to leave behind. He has drawn up a clear plan for himself, for which he will do anything."
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Judging by his victory at the Tour de Suisse where he beat Remco Evenepoel and Juan Ayuso with strong displays in the mountains and time-trials, it would be safe to assume the Dane is capable of thriving in one-week races. Recently crowned Danish champion as well, Skjelmose arrives in France highly motivated and with freedom to test himself in a GC fight, as the likes of Mads Pedersen and Giulio Ciccone will already aim at stage wins.
"Mattias is now also a good leader, about which he has spoken a lot with Mads. Mads is very good at that and Skjelmose is starting to understand that too. That also makes it easy to work for him and to do something extra. He knows exactly what to do and if he manages to do it, you can't help but have confidence. He realizes that very well, that he can go far with a plan and structure."
Winner of stages too at the Etoile de Bessèges and the Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var, he is already an experienced winner. Aiming for stage wins would likely be too modest of a goal taking into consideration the form he's carrying, and with the team already having that same role fulfilled by Ciccone. The coming weeks will be a great test for Skjelmose to understand if he is already a rider capable of riding with the best throughout three weeks, or if that's a plan to work on for the future.
“From the team he can ride with few expectations. It is not that we should assume that he will ride on the podium, because he is still very young and has many years ahead of him. There is absolutely no need to put that pressure on him. I think he can handle those three weeks, but we'll see," De Kort concluded.