American Tony Cruz (BMC Racing) has had a first 2008 season of ups and downs. After racing the Tour of Qatar in good form, he fell ill with a chest cold and sinus infection. Bouncing back from that, Cruz attended the Redlands Bicycle Classic in top shape, but then he broke his collarbone at the GP Pino Cerami in Belgium and underwent surgery. Now, Cruz is back to normal training sessions, hoping that fate will be on his side again in the next few months.
"Everything has been going smoothly," the American said about his recovery from the crash. "I took a little under a week off the bike. After a couple days I rolled around my neighbourhood a little, but decided it didn't feel quite right. So not wanting to take any chances, I decided to give it almost a week. The first three days I rode I managed one and a half hours of training. I then took a day off and the next day was able to do 3 hours. Last Saturday I did six and a half. So now I am back up to my normal amounts. The only thing I am holding off on is sprinting: that intense of an effort still bothers me. Give it another week, and I expect to be up to full speed again."
Fortunately, Cruz has already experienced periods of top form this season, and will thus be able to come back to good shape more easily. "I have either been feeling really well or I have been sick or injured," the former Discovery Channel rider added about his roller-coaster first part of the season. "I was really going strongly at Qatar and felt like I was really competitive, and then I got so sick that I had trouble at California and couldn't race the early Belgian races that the team did. After I recovered, I was flying at Redlands and felt like I was definitely going to nail a couple of races, but then almost immediately I broke my collarbone. But at least I have had fitness peaks. Some seasons for whatever reasons, you never feel like you hit your stride. And this year I have already had two good periods. I know I will be able to build on those."
The next-up race for the sprinter, who considers himself a good all-rounder, will be the Tour de Picardie in France. Ambitions are high. "I'd definitely like to do well there and hopefully win a stage," Cruz said. "And then Philly week will be coming in the first week of June. That is a huge objective for our team and I have won there before, so I know I have a chance again. It is just a matter of being healthy."
(Additional research and reporting provided by Susan Westemeyer)