Jens Voigt is gone, long live Tom Skujins.
Tour of California breakaway artist and leg shutter-upper Voigt retired last year but he had to be smiling today as young Latvian Tom Skujins blew everybody away with a Jensie-screw-you attack.
The kid took a solo victory, the leaders jersey and a stunning minute plus change over the rest of the peloton and all the GC contenders. Part of a seven man breakaway, the Hincapie development team rider ripped away by himself on the early section of the Hors Categorie Mount Hamilton climb and proceeded to destroy all calculations on catching him.
Sometimes, bike riders suck at math. Even the ex-bike riders in the team cars.
He went downhill so fast that he overcooked not one, but at least two corners, fell off his bike, hit the hay bales, skidded left and right and yet just kept flying. Even a skilled descender like Daniel Oss, who chased along with Jonny not-near-as-bold-in- corners Clark (UnitedHealthcare) yet continued to lose time to Skujins.
Back in the peloton, the conversation went from “Who is this guy?” to “How is he still gaining time?” to ” Jesus, we’re in deep trouble” to” Oh, F*%[email protected], my GC podium hopes are shit.” Looking at deficit of around four minutes with 12k to the finish, the WorldTour teams with GC aspirations jacked up the horsepower.
And nothing happened.
Let’s repeat that because it symbolizes the hammer to the head that everyone not named Skujins got today in return for their efforts on the way out, way up and back to San Jose.
Sky sent Ian Boswell and Philip Deignan up front for Sergio Henao. LottoNL-Jumbo had Laurens Ten Dam up from for Gesink, Jason McCathy drove the chase for Saxo-Tinkoff. No screaming or shouting was heard above the helicopter noise, but panic spread as somehow Skujins refused to crack, fade, crash, blow up, die.
Skujins kept rolling at high speed, like he was as fresh as the first hour of racing. That’s not to say that he wasn’t deep in a cave of pain. At one moment, in the agonizing grind up the last kilometer, it looked like the Latvian almost fell over from exhaustion and lactic acid overload. ” I thought this last 2km is going to be insufferable. I didn’t look back at all like the whole race, except for that last kilometer because I was like, ‘No way they are going to catch me.”
There are now a lot of people in lycra who wished they could look back, go back, re-run the stage and not let a break of seven go and then not let a kid like Skujins go even harder. Thou shalt know him by his new name, Little Jensie.
Stage bonus action: Skujins face scrunching up like a cartoon when the two podium girls, including the incandescent Joanna Zanella, smooched him from both sides. In sum, stage three, Tour of California, Jens Voigt replacement hero, holy shit.