Latvian Toms Skujins has joined Peter Sagan on the list of road racers with mountain bike backgrounds who want to earn wildcard positions on their national team for the Olympic Games cross country races in Rio this August.
The Cannondale team confirmed that Skujins will compete in the European MTB Marathon Championships this weekend in his home town of Sigulda, Latvia, in order to earn consideration for any positions from the UCI’s allocation that go unused. Latvia failed to qualify a spot for the mountain bike events. Sagan’s native Slovakia earned one place, but is seeking a second spot to field Sagan in the men’s event.
Skujins says he began his career on the dirt and has kept his skills current. “My first races in cycling were on a mountain bike and still every year when I’m home I do one or two races, just to keep my bike handling skills in check and go back from where I started,” he said. “There are a lot more MTB races in Latvia then road races and it’s definitely more popular, so as one of the riders people have heard about more so then most it’s nice to do a local race, so people can actually see me, talk to me and in so maybe motivate them even more to get into cycling/sport or just a healthy life style in general.”
After winning a stage in the Tour of California, Skujins returned home to hone his off-roading skills.
“This year Latvia gets to host the European MTB marathon championships in town where I was born, so I talked to the team and Cannondale. They agreed to help me out and let me prepare for the race, so I can give a crack at it.”
The UCI announced the allocation for the mountain bike events earlier this month. Countries have until June 15 to confirm the number of athletes they will send to the Games. Any unused spots will be reallocated on June 30. The men’s cross-country race will take place on the final day of competition at the Olympic Games on August 21.
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