Skujins rides into 2020 with momentum and national champion’s jersey
Everyone knows Toms Skujins loves his potatoes. He loves racing bikes even more.
After a rough 2017, the Latvian was back on track in 2018 and 2019, capped this season by winning the Latvian national road title for the first time.
His season paralleled that of his Trek-Segafredo team, which struggled early but went from strength to strength as the season unfolded, with a spell in the yellow jersey at the Tour de France, a victory at Il Lombardia for Bauke Mollema and the world title for Danish rider Mads Pedersen.
“Things started to click in the second half of the season,” Skujins said. “By the end of the year, some of the things that didn’t work got sorted out. By the Deutschland Tour [in August], the team was really riding well.”
There were a few highlights for Skujins, too. He hit a top-10 at Strade Bianche, won the national title after a few near-misses, and rode the Tour de France for the second year in a row, this time with the team hitting the yellow jersey thanks to Giulio Ciccione, who snagged it in stage 6 and defended it the next day.
“Not a lot of teams get to experience that,” he said of the yellow jersey. “It was special for the whole team. Giulio had been riding great the whole year and he really deserved it.”
Skujins was his trade-team teammate’s rival during the road worlds, but he celebrated Pedersen’s rainbow ride as if it was for Latvia. And with Vincenzo Nibali coming on for 2020, Skujins expects the team’s momentum to carry straight into the new season.
“Having the world champion on the team next year will be a big boost. It’s going to be special for everyone,” he said. “Everyone knows what Nibali can do. It’s going to be an exciting  season.”
For 2020, the Olympics will play center stage for many riders, and Skujins is no exception.
“The Olympics will be a big focus for the entire peloton,” he said. “It’s a hard course, so a lot of riders are going to be trying to win it. It will be exciting.”
With two spots for Latvia, Skujins expects to get a chance to have his shot at the gold medal.