Mads Pedersen – who finished second on an almost identical individual time trial course in 2022 – secured his maiden victory of the season on Stage 5 of Etoile de Bessèges, stopping the clock seven seconds faster than anyone else.
Mattias Skjelmose went into the final day of racing in France with the leader’s jersey on his shoulders but with just seconds separating the top two riders it was going to be a tight race for the overall win. Skjelmose gave it his all – finishing ninth on the stage – but in the end, he was pushed into second on the General Classification, just one second down on Neilson Powless (EF Education-EasyPost).
Reaction from Mads Pedersen:
That was painful. I wanted to go full gas to make some good split times for Mattias so he had something to race with and against. That was basically the main plan of today.
Then, I knew from last year, that I could do a good result on this course so it’s nice to win a TT. It’s been a few years since I’ve done that. I felt fast out there. Normally I am not a fan of racing time trials but it was nice to have this feeling back again so maybe I should spend some more time on it from now on. But, also now we are heading towards Paris-Nice and we have the team time trial where we have to perform really well for Mattias so I better ride a bit on the bike.
Yesterday was less of a warm up for today, it was more emptying the tank a little bit but it was good to have done that before today’s race and I think it was good to spin the legs for more than 20 minutes. Overall, a good day.
Reaction from Mattias Skjelmose:
Of course, I am disappointed that I miss out by just one second but that’s cycling sometimes. I am more disappointed that I couldn’t finish off the job that the guys started yesterday. That I am a little bit sad about but, hopefully I can pay them back another time.
I didn’t have super legs, this was the first race of the season for me and I still need some more anaerobic efforts to improve the recovery a little bit but it wasn’t bad today either. I still finished top ten and had some really good names in front of me and also beat some really good names so, I think the TT was okay from me.
I think my next race – Haut Var – is another good one for me. Not super hard like previous years but I think we will see a lot of small group finishes where I can do some good sprints. We also have a really good team there so hopefully we can do another good job.