Who's Lidl-Trek's new star after Pedersen's exit? Betting insights for weeks two and three! Cycling

Who's Lidl-Trek's new star after Pedersen's exit? Betting insights for weeks two and three!

Who's Lidl-Trek's new star after Pedersen's exit? Betting insights for weeks two and three!

Back in March, inspired by his strong spring performances, we penned an ode/column about him. In the Tour de France, representing Lidl-Trek, he could very well become a crucial joker in week two, especially after the withdrawal of team leader Mads Pedersen. We're talking about Toms Skujins, with whom IDLProCycling.com had an engaging conversation during La Grande Boucle!

"My form is good, that's for sure. You always want more, but you can't always control that. It's unfortunate that Mads crashed and had to leave the Tour. It's a big loss for the team," said the amiable Latvian, who earlier this year impressively finished second in Strade Bianche. "We've had a few chances for stage success, but haven't managed to clinch one. The pieces were just not falling into place. But all in all, the first week was quite good, personally for me as well. My feeling is improving and that's always good to know."

Skujins sees opportunities in second and third Tour weeks

The friendly cyclist from Sigulda also explained what his (changed) role in the three-week race entails. "Normally, I came to the Tour to support Mads and Giulio (Ciccone, ed.). But in a 21-day race, there's always at least one stage where you can try for your own success," he was ambitiously planning. "You have to be realistic about that. I will certainly try. So, we will see if I can succeed in that mission."

And Skujins is a solid attacker, that much is clear. Take the Giro d'Italia 2023. The now 33-year-old powerhouse joined the breakaway almost every day, resulting in countless honorable placements (unfortunately no victories). Could something similar happen in this Tour? "In the second and third week, there are a few nice transition stages where I might take my chance, provided I don't need to help Giulio," the rider in question explained. "However, it's hard to predict which stage will be for the breakaway and which won't. Take stage two, for example, when Kevin Vauquelin won. I don't think anyone expected the breakaway to stay away. And yet it happened. Sometimes luck can suddenly be on the side of the breakaway. If you're in it, you're in a good spot."

"Ciccone is improving as the Tour de France progresses," says Skujins

Speaking of team leader Ciccone: what does Skujins actually expect from the Italian captain of the American WorldTour team? "I think Giulio gets better as the Tour progresses," he praised the man who entered the first rest day in fourteenth place. "Like a few others, he got sick between the Critérium du Dauphiné and the Tour. That cost him a few percentage points. It might also be why he couldn't keep up on the San Luca climb during the opening weekend. But all in all, I have a lot of confidence in him. In the Dauphiné, he already showed how much climbing power he has. He was competing with the best in the race. I expect a strong final performance from him."

"If the general classification unexpectedly doesn't work out or Giulio decides not to focus on it, there's always the possibility to go for stage victories," he continued about the Southern European climber. "Or for a polka dot jersey, for example, as he has done before. However, I do expect him to go for the classification first. It would be a shame to give that up just like that. When is my Tour and that of Lidl-Trek successful? Essentially the same. When we return home with at least one stage victory. Or more, of course, haha! Two or three stages would be a tremendous success, but let's start with one." With Pedersen's withdrawal and Jasper Stuyven's near miss in the gravel stage, it might just be up to Skujins...

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