Mattias Skjelmose: I see myself on the Liège-Bastogne-Liège podium with Pogačar and Van der Poel

Dane has recovered from his hypothermic episode at La Flèche Wallonne

Clock15:12, Thursday 18th April 2024
Mattias Skjelmose winning a stage in Paris-Nice in 2024

© Getty Images

Mattias Skjelmose winning a stage of Paris-Nice in 2024

Mattias Skjelmose (Lidl-Trek) believes that he has fully recovered from his hypothermic episode at La Flèche Wallonne and that he will vie with Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) and Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) for the top positions at Sunday’s edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

The Danish rider was 17th at Amstel Gold Race last week and went into La Flèche Wallonne as one of the pre-race favourites but the terrible weather left him with hypothermia and he had to be carried from his bike by Lidl-Trek staff with the race still underway. Within a few hours he had recovered, and on Thursday we reconned the final of Liege.

Read more: Mattias Skjelmose carried from bike as only 44 riders finish wet, cold Flèche Wallonne

“I don’t know if we made a mistake but UAE went quite early yesterday in Fleche, just when the hailstorm came, and I tried to follow. It meant I couldn’t get my rain jacket on. Toms Skujiņš was on his way with it but I needed to follow at the front and I ended up getting so cold that I couldn’t put my jacket on and I couldn’t recover. I didn’t realise I was hypothermic on the bike, I was shaking, but I thought I could recover but when I stopped on the Mur for the second time I couldn’t control myself. That was one of the most uncomfortable things I’ve ever done,” Skjelmose said during an organised press conference on Thursday.

The 23-year-old has enjoyed a successful start to the season with a stage win in Paris-Nice and third overall in the Itzulia Basque Country earlier in April. The Ardennes represent another key point in his season and results haven’t quite matched expectations but Skjelmose is confident that he can get the best out of himself during Sunday’s Monument.

“I’ve not been able to show myself but I know my feeling on the bike, and I felt great in Amstel. I also felt great on the Mur before I got cold and that’s what I take away from it. I can say with my hand on my heart that I’m in the best shape of my life. Honestly, I believe I can be up there on Sunday and fighting for the podium,” he said.

Success in Liège-Bastogne-Liège won’t be easy. The start list is stacked with talent and sees the return of the all-conquering Tadej Pogačar, who won the race back in 2021. The Slovenian won Strade Bianche this year, finished third in Milan-San Remo and rounded out his early season with another victory in the Volta a Catalunya, where he also won four stages.

Read more: Preview: Liège-Bastogne-Liège 2024

“For me I’m happy he comes back... He would like a hard race and that means pushing the pace early. For me, that’s the best outcome. When I feel as good as I do the harder the race the better. They have the team to make it a hard race and that will be the biggest difference,” Skjelmose said when asked about the out-and-out pre-race favourite.

Skjelmose was also asked about his top three predictions for the race on Sunday. He refrained from picking an order but mentioned himself alongside Pogačar and the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix winner Mathieu van der Poel.

“I’m not going to name the one, two and three but I see myself standing there with Tadej and Mathieu but I don’t know the order yet,” he said.

For the latest news, interviews and analysis from the world of professional cycling, be sure to check out the Racing tab on the GCN website and visit our essential guide to the Spring Classics to stay up to date with all of the action from cycling's most exciting season.

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