Last year, after a successful move on stage 5, Toms Skujiņš became the first Latvian to ever wear the polka-dot jersey at the Tour de France. A year on, Skujiņš was back in the stage 5 breakaway again, this time with his eyes set on Wednesday’s stage win in Colmar. The most combative rider prize at the end of the day might not have been what he’d hoped for, but his brand-new Latvian national champion jersey remained on display until the finale.
Trek-Segafredo have so far been playing at three tables in the Tour de France saloon. Rallied around Porte, the team’s riders ensured their leader avoided any misfortunes on the road, but in the sprint finals they’ve positioned Jasper Stuyven to try for stage wins, and on a hilly day in Alsace they made their presence known in the breakaway.
Skujiņš’ move wasn’t unexpected, but it may not be a regular feature of this year’s Tour for the 28-year-old. He understands why he earned the spot on the team and what the bigger picture is.
“Everything is for Richie. That’s the main goal,” he told Cyclingnews ahead of the start of the Tour in Brussels. “Maybe it hasn’t been the easiest start for him, but at the same time you see that he’s progressed at every race. We had a good camp in Isola [in Italy] just before this. Maybe he won’t be winning at La Planche des Belles Filles [stage 6], but he’s definitely on the up.”
Porte’s quest to survive three weeks without any unlucky moments got off to a good start, as the Australian, victim of crashes in last two editions of the race, has managed so far to escape any incidents on the road. The only setback has been the team time trial performance – 18th place in Brussels on stage 2 saw Porte lose over a minute to the race’s main favourites – although 34-year-old will not be too worried about it.
Coming into the Tour without stellar results but with a number of altitude camps under his belt, the Trek-Segafredo leader was looking past Thursday’s finish on La Planche des Belles Filles – where he finished 11th, in the same group as fellow GC contenders Jakob Fuglsang, Egan Bernal and Adam Yates – and will be more interested in the Alpine stages come week three.
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