- Timmy Duggan
May 26, 2013, 22:19 BST,
May 26, 2013, 23:19 BST
Duggan returns to the US Pro Championships
It has been a whirlwind week after finishing the Amgen Tour of California. My Saxo-Tinkoff team and I put in a solid performance supporting Mick Rogers in his overall effort landing him on the podium at the end of the race. While I was satisfied with our work and with the opportunity to get eight more days of racing in my skimpy season so far, I came out of the race pretty banged up.
My crash on stage 2 left me limping along the rest of the week to the finish in Santa Rosa. The injuries were not catostrophic, but some massive bruising on my sternum and ribs and some serious whiplash isn't too fun. I did my best, but I was frustratingly uncomfortable the whole time. A quick trip back home to Colorado was spent with a few hours of therapy each day with massage, accupuncture, and chiropractic. I was also busy tying up loose ends before my wife and I head back to Europe for the rest of the summer immediately after the US Pro National Championships in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
After arriving in Chattanooga I decided to skip the time trial to give my body one more day to heal. A hard effort on the TT bike wasn't going to make my neck and ribs feel any better. In a season with limited racing so far, I was bummed to skip yet another, but it is what it is. I really want to make sure I'm as ready as possible for defending my national title in the road race on Monday.
Instead of hitting the time trial, I took a mellow morning with my wife and got some good training in on the roads around Chattanooga. I'd love to come back here again with some more time to explore because the riding here looks awesome!
In contrast to the other races on the calendar, the national championships present a unique challenge to some of the WorldTour riders like myself who compete on teams with few or no other Americans. In fact, there are four of us in the race with no teammates. Without the regular support of our respective team staff for food prep, mechanical work, massage, and logistics, we're left to our own devices to get everything organized to be ready to go on the start line.
For the third year running, we've got another version of "Team No Team" going here in Chattanooga, including solo WorldTour riders Ted King, Matthew Busche, and myself. It has proven to be a successful formula in the past, as Ted and I have been on the podium the last two years as Liquigas-Cannondale teammates. It's not always the teams with the big numbers that win the race here.
My generous equipment sponsors SRAM and Zipp have equipment dialed and ready for me here. Through friends and friends of friends, we've engaged the local "militia," arranging motorpacing, massage, soigneur duties, mechanic work, and feedzone coverage. My coach Jon from Fascat Coaching in Boulder, Colorado is out to act as our director for the race, driving the car and dealing with logistics.
It takes some time and energy to put it all together but at the end of the day everything is exactly how we need it. It has been a blast meeting new friends here in the community of Chattanooga through the whole process, and I can't thank enough all of those involved in "Team No Team" this year.
The circuit in Chatttanooga will be a tough one, with four times up Lookout Mountain and technical downtown circuits at the start and finish. I'm looking forward to a challenging and unpredictable race tomorrow, and I'll certainly do my best to keep the stars and stripes on my back for another year.
- Timmy Duggan
May 18, 2013, 22:06 BST,
May 18, 2013, 23:08 BST
Two stages to go for Saxo-Tinkoff rider at Tour of California
It's been a different Tour of California for me this year. Last year with Liquigas, I was helping Peter Sagan win stages, but this year with Team Saxo-Tinkoff, we're looking after Mick Rogers for the GC. With Sagan we were just going full gas every day for the stage, and if it didn't look good for the stage we weren't too concerned. But when you have GC aspiration, you can never let your guard down, it's on all the time. We're looking strong with Mick in second place.
Mick had a good position after stage 5 to Avila Beach, where he made the front split in the crosswinds. A split like that isn't something you can plan for four hours ahead of time. You don't know when or where it's going to happen. The team has to ride together so we can communicate and make a decision instantly, or react to another team's attack.
In a windy situation, it's really tense, and you have to stay within arms reach of each other, because even if it's not dangerous now, all it takes is a change in the wind or a turn in the road and the situation changes. We went from a block headwind where nobody could go anywhere to a ferocious cross-tailwind and the field split into six groups in the space of three minutes.
Until then, I was pretty much in denial about how much I've been struggling since my stage 2 crash. I was in the middle of the bunch when the hammer dropped, and went quickly backwards as the pace quickened. It's hard for me to make efforts, and got spat out the back and limped in on that stage.
The frustration really hit home about mid-way through the time trial the next day, when I got to a particularly irritating cross-headwind section and the pain and struggles of the last few days culminated in a near-meltdown.
All I wanted to do was get through the stage inside the time cut, 25% - is that too much to ask? I was humping it through the crosswind, I was so uncomfortable, the wind was blowing me around like crazy, I couldn't sit, I couldn't stand, it hurt to breathe, it hurt to stand, it hurt to split - aaaugh! I had to calm down, breathe, finish. And, phew - I made it inside the cut with room to spare.
Luckily we have a mountain finish today, because I feel infinitely better in an upright climbing position. It's bike racing, you can put up with so much on the bike because it's so one dimensional.
I've been lucky to have my family following the race this week. It's a nice respite to spend time with them for an hour or so. It lets you step out of that bike racing bubble for a little bit. It makes it more relaxed and familiar to have them around. When you're a professional cyclist it seems you're always working. If you're not on the bike, you're recovering, taking care of nutrition, and in my case this week I've been spending a lot of time with the chiropractor. There's always something to be done off the bike.
I'm looking forward to getting through the next two stages and being back home in Colorado for three more days before I'm pretty much gone for the rest of the summer.
- Timmy Duggan
May 17, 2013, 5:37 BST,
May 17, 2013, 6:41 BST
Temps cool, but racing as hot as ever
The past two days of the Tour of California have been so much cooler than the first two, and in Santa Barbara it was so pleasant it almost felt arctic compared with what we've been having.
Even though the temperatures are down, the racing is just as hot as ever, and we still haven't had any easy, cruisy, relaxing stages.
On stage 3 in Palmdale, a strong cross-tailwind at the start could have been decisive had the lead group that got away after the start been slightly different. We weren't ideally represented, but Mick and Jonas were in the early move with Tejay [van Garderen] and about 20 other guys. But a lot of GC contenders got caught out. Maybe if it had been composed a little differently it would have been gone and the race would be over. At the same time, it would have been a team time trial on both groups chasing each other the entire day.
The wind was just obnoxious all day. At the start it was a fast cross-tail, which helped form the split, and in the canyons all day it was just swirling: headwind, crosswind, tailwind. It was never comfortable, you always had to be aware of the wind, and having a tailwind up those climbs wasn't easy.
So even though it was a short stage, it was solid all day and then a field sprint, and a hectic one no less. We were strung out single file all day, and then we finished on these wide open, enormous 10-lane roads, and the peloton was curb to curb. No matter how hard or fast a team pulls on the front, you just can't string it out on a road like that, so it makes it a real washing machine effect. A bit of a chaotic sprint.
We were leading out the sprint for Michael Mørkøv, but we went a little too early. In a situation like that you have to leave it late, and hit it at just the right moment because it's so hard to string it out.
The next day from Santa Clarita headed out on those same enormous roads, and made for a little bit of a crazy start. There was so much debris on the road, with bits of tires and metal, and this line of cones separating us from the oncoming traffic. Some guys were doing some slalom attacking on the wrong side of the cones. You don't need to be slaloming through the oncoming semi trucks like that. I actually got a flat tire in the first 10km and had to get back in.
Later on as we were going through some orange groves, we had some more excitement when we got hit by a dust devil, which is a sort of miniature tornado. Apparently it took a few guys out. My teammates and I were at the front and got hit by it, and it just kind of sand blasted us, it wasn't too bad. But I guess if it hits you at the wrong moment it could knock you over. It was pretty entertaining, if you didn't crash, that is. I'll take mini-tornados over rain, snow or 120-degree heat any day.
Most of my day was spent keeping Mick out of trouble. I knew the finale from time spent scoping out the stages this spring, and that helped the team in the last 15km going into Santa Barbara. But I just couldn't go very hard on that last climb, I'm still feeling the effects of that crash and lacking a little power.
Mick, however, is feeling good. He and the other GC contenders had to show their cards early in the race, but until the time trial it's all about conserving. He's climbing well, and he's got an amazing TT pedigree, so if he's climbing well, that bodes really well for the TT, which also includes a climb.
We're certainly rallying around him for the overall.
Mick and I are actually roommates this tour, and we get along pretty well. We don't watch TV which is perfect, we go to bed early and get up at the same time. Although of the two of us, I think I'm the snorer. With my crash the other day I've been having to sleep on my back and I think that makes me snore. I have to give him some earplugs and tell him to throw a pillow at me when I snore.
Today's stage has another tricky beginning. Anytime the start is windy or it starts on a climb, it can form a more dangerous break, because the guys in it are strong, rather than like yesterday when it was 20km on the highway, and it was more of a tactical approach to forming the breakaway.
We'll just try and keep Mick safe and fresh for tomorrow.
- Timmy Duggan
May 14, 2013, 21:54 BST,
May 14, 2013, 22:59 BST
From cold to hot
The peloton has really seen two extremes of racing so far this year, between the Tour of California stage to Palm Springs, where it was about 120 degrees, and Milan-San Remo, where it was at the other end of the thermometer. The heat was a huge factor for everyone, because you couldn't just ride along: for five hours it was a constant effort of going back to the team cars for water, ice, electrolyte drinks or food.
How hot was it? I was completely soaked, head to toe with sweat and water at the finish, but within five minutes of descending to the bus I was totally dry. That's how hot. It was like being in a convection oven.
After days like today, there is always a discussion about whether or not it is safe to race in those conditions. I was lucky to have had good access to water all day, and didn't feel that bad, but at the finish I saw plenty of guys who were in bad shape. It was like in Milan-San Remo, where guys were just done in with hypothermia. We all have what we need to be prepared for the weather - all the clothing or hydration strategies you think you need - but sometimes the conditions are beyond what you expect.
In Italy, the race organisation stopped the race and riders got on the team buses to warm up, take hot showers, get dry clothes and thaw out. But what could they have done for Palm Springs? We were joking as we descended into the blast furnace that was Palm Desert that maybe they could stop the race at the hotel, we could run in for a Frappuccino and a cold shower, sit in the air conditioning for an hour, then head up and race the final climb.
Other than that, the day went pretty well, aside from having an impromptu flight over the bars. Johnny Cantwell hit one of the many cat-eyes that dot the California highways and crashed, taking out me, Philippe Gilbert and Bert Grabsch. Those things are everywhere, and one moment of inattention or a bad line through a corner and down you go.
I just sat there on the ground for a while, not wanting to move and checking my collarbone to make sure it wasn't broken. I was just super pissed off to be laying on the ground again.
It turned out Johnny was worse off than I was. It was a good thing we were in the middle of nowhere and there were no spectators, because his jerseys and shorts were so shredded that he was standing there basically buck naked. So not only did he have to get a bike change, he had to get a whole new kit.
He and I limped around the back of the field for a while, I was just waiting to hit a bump hard, and feel a pain that would tell me something was wrong, but luckily that never happened. In the end, I had a broken helmet, a really sore neck and a bruised sternum-clavicle joint. Johnny lost a lot of skin and bruised some ribs, but won't take the start because of the risk of infection.
I started to come around as we went along. The legs are feeling better by the day, so that's good.
The first two stages produced a solid GC shake down, with only a few riders in contention already, so it should be a little more controlled in the upcoming sprint-friendly stages. But they're not super easy, so maybe a tired peloton will let a break stick one of these days.
Today's stage will feel a little better than yesterday, but it's still four and a half hours of riding in the oven. One thing is for sure, there are no cruise-y days at the Amgen Tour of California this year.
- Timmy Duggan
May 13, 2013, 4:50 BST,
May 13, 2013, 5:58 BST
Temperatures expected to rise further in Palm Springs
The Amgen Tour of California's undulating route on the first stage certainly produced an exciting and unpredictable finish in Escondido today. With a small breakaway out front and a chess match waiting game of who's gonna take the reins and control the race in the peloton behind, it wasn't until the final climb that we really lit the fireworks and the day's scorching heat began to take its toll.
Like many others, I struggled a bit in the heat today. Nearly everybody was encrusted in salt in the finale of the race. You feel fine and then when the time comes to make a big effort you feel like there is a governor on, much like racing at altitude. As we bottomed-out the descent off Mt Palomar, we passed a certain level of altitude where all of a sudden the temperature must have increased by 15-degrees. It was like riding in a convection oven. The heat was certainly a big factor in today's race and will, unbelievably, be a much greater factor tomorrow as we race through the searing desert of Palm Springs.
Many in the peloton have endured a brutal European springtime with just a few days of anything close to warm temperatures and Monday's 105-degree predicted temperature is really going to be a shocker if today wasn't enough already. Today we pretty much constantly had someone going back to the car for water bottles with each rider consuming 3-4 per hour. I saw some fans in the finale holding out bottled water with a big sign saying: "COLD WATER" as if it was a lemonade stand. I'd definitely take a frosty lemonade hand-up as we start tomorrow's final climb! Might have to wait till the finish though unfortunately.
In tomorrow's stage proper hydration and staying cool will be absolutely critical. On the final climb there is nowhere to hide and any mistakes in hydration will be immediately evident. In the heat, after 200km or racing, there will definitely be some damage done!
- Timmy Duggan
May 12, 2013, 0:47 BST,
May 12, 2013, 1:47 BST
Duggan recounts his fight back from a broken tibia
I'm truly excited to get back up to speed and rejoin my Saxo-Tinkoff teammates here at the Amgen Tour of California after a "second offseason", recovering from my broken leg sustained at the Tour Down Under back in January.
It's always difficult getting the ball rolling again, getting back into top form from a hospital bed only a few months before. I've had some great training, and got my racing feet wet again at the Tour of Turkey a couple weeks ago. No matter how hard or how well you train, it's difficult to get that racing rhythm back without actually racing, and the Tour of Turkey did just that. I'm looking forward to being even a few notches better this week and returning to normalcy.
The last couple months have been anything but normal. Thankfully, my rehab has progressed quickly since day one, and what I was able to do was changing by the week. My physical therapy and training morphed along with that.
The key in the whole process was being able to adapt and roll with the changes, and constantly progress while not pushing too hard. I have a great team of doctors, chiropractors, therapists, my coach and many others around me monitoring every step of the process so i could easily tell when I was improving or where my weaknesses were.
My favorite moment was when I could finally take my dog out for a walk in the woods behind my house, followed by getting all green lights from my physical therapist just last week as she watched me run laps through the gym without a limp.
The hardest part in coming back from an injury is getting those last 5 percent. It's easy to get back to "normal", but "normal" for an elite athlete is a bit different. When you are pushing to the limit, any tiny weakness is magnified. This is where I am now, polishing out those last little difficulties that maybe only I can even notice, getting back into the rhythm and routine of racing. Previously, my training consisted of a variety of physical therapy exercises, deep massage work, ice and compression therapy and taping. It's nice to be back to the more one-dimensional world of eating, sleeping and riding!
USADA tested me at 11pm last night, after I'd been sleeping for 1.5 hours. Well within their rights, but sucky nonetheless. So that didn't help the assimilation into "race rhythm"! I just pretended I was having a bad dream.
As always, Im really excited to race at home in the US. It doesnt happen very often, and the Amgen Tour of California is certainly a marquee event on the international calendar. I've got a great group of friends and family on hand following the whole race. Also, its been fun showing my teammates a little bit of Americana this week, some of whom have never been to the United States before. We've hit up Starbucks, Chipotle, and even got pictures taken with the Hooters waitresses. OK, we didn't eat there, but we stopped in mid-ride for a photo op...
- Timmy Duggan
The 2012 USA Professional Road Champion, Timmy Duggan will be sharing his experiences as he returns to the Tour of California with his new Saxo-Tinkoff team. Having overcome a broken leg in Tour Down Under, the Colorado resident is looking to get back up to top form and show his stars and stripes jersey with pride.