Even as the Latvians were defeated by France in a hockey shootout in yesterday’s IIHF Championship game, they avoided relegation to Division 1, sending Austria instead. However the Latvian sports spotlight centers on California today, where Stage 3 of the Amgen Tour of California ended yesterday with a solid 1st place finish by Latvian cyclist Toms Skujiņš. Watch his winner's interview here.
Along with teammate Andžs Flaksis, Toms is riding for the world-class Hincapie Racing Team. The cycling team based right here in Greenville has a focus on road bicycle racing; they joined the UCI Continental Tour in partnership with UCI ProTour team BMC Racing in 2012.
In Stage 3 yesterday Toms Skujiņš broke off with six other riders only to complete a 55km solo ride to the finish, 32 seconds ahead of 2nd place. The 32-year old debuted in 2013, receiving the inaugural Cyclist of the Year award presented by the Latvian Cycling Federation.
In recent years cycling has seen a resurgence in popularity in Latvia. The most famous might be Māris Štrombergs, who in 2008 won gold in Beijing, becoming the first and only Olympic champion in BMX cycling as he won a repeat gold in 2012 in London. Many of these athletes are competing in cycling events across the world; you might remember last August when the 2014 Union Cycliste Internationale Para-Cycling World Championships were in town and we hosted Latvian Oskars Gailišs. And of course this year we’re excited to be cheering on Toms and Andžs, and we will be following their progress today in Stage 4.
Here is the play-by-play of yesterday’s win, straight from Toms’ blog: How the hell did that happen?