Q&A with Toms Skujins, Stage 5 Winner, Amgen Tour of California
Toms Skujins (Cannondale Pro Cycling Team) stayed with us at the Mammoth Lakes Crib looking for an edge in his preparations for the 2016 AMGEN Tour of California. A surprise stage winner in the 2015 ATOC, Skujins has had his fair share of success in the the Golden state. We can’t claim all the credit, but his stay in Mammoth Lakes certainly didn’t hurt! We caught up with Toms in his native Latvia as he preps for run at the Olympics, hoping to represent his country in mountain biking (some guys are just good at everything).
Crib: Congrats on your stage win at the Tour of California! That’s two in a row for you. Talk us through it; did you feel confident going into the day? Was it a stage you circled?
Toms Skujins: I did have my eyes on that stage and when in the morning the team gave me the green light to go in the break I was going to try my best to get there. It’s not always easy and it doesn’t always work out, but this time it did.
Crib: You won a stage last year (2015) and listening to the reactions on race radio, you caught a lot of them by surprise. Not this year, you won it the hard(est) way—does that make it sweeter? How was it different than last year?
TS: I think last year was just as sweet, if maybe not sweeter, because I was on a smaller team and nobody expected it to happen. This year it was almost expected. But still you have to make it to the line first and that’s never easy.
Crib: Saw in a quote following your win you mentioned the time you spent training in Mammoth Lakes. What impact, if any, did it have? Sounded like it was something you gained confidence from?
TS: Not only confidence, but also the physical adaptation I got to the high altitude while staying in Mammoth Lakes made a big difference. I knew and could feel that when we climbed over 7000 ft. I still felt good and saw others weaken.
Crib: You seem to be doing something right. Do you have any superstitions/ routines on race day?
TS: I have some superstitions, but don’t really think they help much on race day, beause then all the training has been done and you either have it or don’t. However, I never pin my number on my jersey the day before, only on race day.
Crib: You’ve posted a couple mountain biking pics on social media recently—how do you work knobby tires into your training, or is it more just for fun?
TS: I do love to get on some dirt when I can. Especially winter I do a lot of MTBking, but most of the time it’s on snow then. This time around I’m actually getting ready for the European MTB Marathon Championships on the 5th of June. The race is held in Latvia so I can’t miss it.
Crib: What’s up next for you?
TS: After some time on the MTB I’ll jump back on the road and head over to Switzerland, for Tour de Suisse, followed by a flight back home and Latvian National Championships. In July I’m hoping to get the call up for Tour of Poland because I believe that would be great preparation for the Olympics, which I’m still in the running to compete in.