• Toms Skujins won the king of the mountain jersey on stage 5 of the 2018 Tour de France (Getty)
Just over 12 months ago, Toms Skujiņš staggered around on the road with a sickening concussion at the Tour of California. Yesterday he stood on the Tour de France podium to claim the polka dot jersey and the prize for the most combative rider.
By
Cycling Central

12 Jul - 9:40 AM  UPDATED 12 Jul - 10:07 AM

Fans sat horrified as they watched a stunned and smashed up Skujiņš attempt to get back on his bike after a crash on stage 2 of the 2017 Tour of California as he nearly wiped out several packs of descending riders. 

Skujins stunned after ATOC crash
Cannondale-Drapac's Toms Skujins crashed towards the finish of the Amgen Tour of California. He staggered back onto the bike but was later forced to abandon under the direction of his team.

Fast forward to stage 5 of the 2018 Tour de France and the dogged Latvian engaged in a thrilling battle for the maillot à pois with breakaway companions Lilian Calmejane and Sylvain Chavanel (Direct-Energie). 

Chavanel pulled clear from the breakaway to scoop up the only points on offer on the first two categorised climbs. As he helped himself to the maximum points on the Côté de la Roche, Calmejane, Skujiņš (Trek-Segafredo) and Nicolas Edet (Cofidis) edged closer to the veteran Frenchman. The trio fought over the last remaining point with Calmejane triumphant. 

As the Côté de Menez loomed, Skujiņš and Calemjane frolicked in a game of cat and mouse, but Skujiņš ultimately pulled away convincingly for the maximum points. The final categorised Côté de la montagne de Locronan climb was a much closer affair, but it was again the Latvian with the legs.  

While he tied with Chavanel on four points in the KOM classification, Skujiņš claimed the jersey on count back. The race jury also liked him for the most combative rider for the stage. He is the first Latvian do wear the polka dot jersey. 

"Hold it to Paris. Why not?"

"Zero points as close as it gets," a cheery Skujiņš told Cycling Central after the stage. "If you're still ahead you're still ahead."

"Bretagne is Bretagne - the roads are never big, always up and down always hard. It is a little bit like Amstel or Fleche or something like that for sure.

Asked if he would hold the jersey after the next stage, he joked "Hold it to Paris. Why not? You're still ahead, you're still ahead." 

WATCh: interview with Toms Skujiņš

Skujiņš flagged some of this form at his return to the Tour of California in May, winning stage three from a breakaway. He explained on his team's website the polka dots wasn't his goal for today's stage. 

Skujins beats the ATOC bunch at Laguna Seca
Toms Skujins won stage three of the Tour of California – a year to the day after he crashed out with a sickening concussion some of those close to him still refuse to watch footage of.

"First we wanted to get in the break. We had seven pretty strong guys there, and I was thinking that we might be fighting for the stage, and I was not going to waste any time on sprinting for KOM points.

“But everyone has their own tactics, and when Chavanel went solo that definitely didn’t help the chances for the break because then [his teammate] Calmejane didn’t ride for like 20-30kms. It changed the dynamics of the break a lot, and after that when another guy crashed out [of the break] too, it was okay, let's at least get the mountain points and combative prize.”

So what's the correct pronunciation of Skujiņš?

It's a hard one to say and numerous commentators and journalists have murdered it. But listen here to the man himself:

So, phonetically it's like S-coin-j?

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