US road champion Timmy Duggan (Saxo Bank) will return to racing at the Presidential Tour of Turkey later this month after recovering from injuries suffered in a crash during January's Tour Down Under. Duggan had previously targeted the Amgen Tour of California in mid-May for his return but has moved his comeback forward several weeks to the start in Turkey on April 21.
“I'm arriving at that point by – I don't know if the by the skin of my teeth is the right phrase – but it's all coming together for Turkey just in time,” Duggan told Cyclingnews this week from his home in Nederland, Colorado.
“I'm really excited to put a number back on a little earlier than planned. And even so I don't think I'm pushing anything or risking too much. I wouldn't be on the start line in Turkey if I didn't think I was prepared for the race and ready to handle it.”
Duggan fractured his left tibia and his right collarbone during stage 3 of the Australian race and underwent surgery in Adelaide. He returned to the US to recover and was already riding his trainer by the middle of February. He started riding outside during the second week of March and closed out the month with a week of high-volume training in California.
“For me the hardest part is coming up right now,” Duggan said. “I've been 85 to 90 percent, but it's just as hard to get that last 10 percent as it was to get the first 90 percent. This week I'm just starting into the really intense training, and so it's tough to get the ball rolling. But everything has been coming back really pretty quickly, and I wouldn't be surprised if the high-end stuff comes back really quickly as well.”
The 30-year-old pro has plenty of experience with the cycle of injury, rehab and return. A bad crash at the Tour de Georgia in 2008 required extensive recovery, and Duggan broke his arm three separate times in three separate crashes in 2010. Duggan said the previous experience has made this recovery easier to deal with.
“I think I'm just wiser than I was even just a few years ago in terms of how to handle an injury and how to train through it and how to heal,” he said. “It's important to kind of learn where it's best to put your energy. Sometimes you really need to focus on the healing, and some times you really need to focus on the training. So for me this time, step one was heal 100 percent correctly, and then we'll worry about the fitness later. And really, I think that's the fastest way to get back to fitness as well. You just have to take it step by step.”
Duggan said the crash and recovery time have not really changed his primary goals for the season. He's still focused on the California race and on defending his national title the following week. Duggan is also on the team's tentative roster for the Vuelta a Espana and has several other late-season goals, but for now he's focused on making it through Turkey, racing well in California and getting back to peak fitness.
“Missing out on these races early in the season wasn't so much that I missed out on some results that I wanted, it was more that I missed out on some preparation, which is unfortunately pretty critical,” Duggan said. “But I think it will work out for me, and it's still a pretty long season. When I get back I'll still have six more months of racing, so I think it will all work out at the end of the day.”
After experiencing one of his best seasons ever in 2012 and then enduring the disappointment of the early season crash and the missed opportunities to race in his first professional stars-and-stripes jersey, Duggan is obviously eager to put the entire episode behind him and get back to the business of racing his bike.
“I'm just cracked on talking about injury and rehab and coming back,” he said. “I'm so ready to move on to phase two and talk about bike racing and traveling and training – the reasons why we do all this. So I'm really looking forward to getting on a plane next week and heading back over and joining up with the team and throwing a number on my back. It's the first race back and it's going to hurt, but I'll be ready to go.”