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The promising 21-year-old Dane crashed into a retaining wall and then fell into a rocky ravine in a harrowing crash that would see many riders call it a day.
Instead, Skjelmose matter-of-factly climbed back up to the roadway, insisted on a new bike, and made it back to the front group in time to kick to 10th in the bunch sprint.
“I had a guardian angel holding a hand over me today,” Skjelmose said after the stage. “Luckily, I did not hurt myself so bad, and I came pretty fast back on the bike, and Antwan [Tolhoek] helped me back to the bunch.”
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It happened in an instant. On a swooping right-hand downhill curve about 60km from the finish, Skjelmose struck a retaining wall, and fell about 10 to 15 feet into a ravine. Officials confirmed he underwent health screenings Tuesday as well as ahead of Wednesday’s third stage.
“Me and Antwan (Tolhoek) were in a pretty good position just behind UAE on the downhill,” he recounted. “Then somebody made a braking mistake and unfortunately, I was on the outside, and on my outside there was a cliff where I ended up.”
Incredibly, the second-year pro was not seriously injured, and managed to climb up the drop off and rejoin the race.
“I’m okay, I’m okay,” he yelled to shocked team staffers. “Just get me a new bike!”
— GCN Racing (@GcnRacing) March 22, 2022
With the help of Tolhoek, Skjelmose rejoined the chase. When the crosswinds hit in the finale, Skjelmose’s torn and bloodied jersey was near the front, and he managed to kick to a top-10 in bunch sprint.
“If there’s any good part about a crash, you’re hit with adrenaline and that’s probably the best painkiller you can have,” he said. “I didn’t really feel anything. I think I had a guardian angel holding a hand over me today and protecting me because I feel fine. In the end I had the same legs I had all day, so it was good. I was very lucky, that’s for sure.”