By Kirsten Robbins in Augusta, Georgia
Juan Jose Haedo (Team CSC) claimed victory on the Tour de Georgia's second stage, despite riding with a broken hand. The Argentinean sprinter was disappointed to learn of the injury after an accident during a motor pace training session in Gerona, Spain.
The high speed accident happened just a few weeks prior to the start of an important block of racing including the Castilla y Leon, Tour de Georgia and next month's Giro d'Italia. While preparing for the block of racing, Haedo crashed into the back of the motor cycle during a typical pacing session after it was forced to brake hard when a dog that ran out in front of the vehicle.
"It was a no win thing," said Haedo. "Either it was me with the motor cycle or it was me, either way I was going to crash."
As a result of the accident, Haedo has his road bike set up similar to a Paris-Roubaix style with thick handle bar tape. The additional padding, normally saved for the brutal cobbles of Europe, is being used to help absorb the road vibrations traveling from Haedo's bike to his hands.
Without realizing he had broken his hand, Haedo was forced to withdraw from the Castilla y Leon due to the acute hand pain where doctors ran a standard MRI that revealed a fracture.
"The doctors told me I had to use a cast for two or three weeks," said Haedo. "I used the cast for two weeks and I've been without the cast now, just tape for one week now. I think the bone in the hand is probably healing well but the tendons and muscles are weak and it's going to take longer to heal."
Haedo was to not thought to be in contention for Stage 2's field sprint because he dropped to the back of the field during the previous stage's sprint finale. "The reason I sprinted today and not yesterday was because yesterday was a shorter race and the guys were feeling more fresh at the end so it was more risky," said Haedo. "Today the race is longer and harder and so at the end there is less people to fight with and guys are a little bit more tired."
While the Tour de Georgia is a key event for Team CSC's Giro d'Italia preparations, there is no room for further injury to its sprinter. "I am preparing for the Giro right now and that all depends on my hand and my form coming out of this race," explained Haedo. "So, I have to decide not to sprint when it's risky, even if my legs were feeling good. To do that is really hard because I want to be there and I crossed the line yesterday feeling like I could have done something up there, it's not a nice feeling."
While his hand seems to be healing according to his doctor's expectations, Haedo said the pain swelled in his hand about two hours into today's 190 kilometre stage. "It started good today and I was surprised that it started hurting after the first two hours and then when we were two hundred meters to go I didn't feel a thing," said Haedo.
Haedo did not call on his team-mates for help nearing the sprint, as he was not sure he would be capable of contending. "[Brad] McGee was on the opposite side of the field so I had to find my own way a little bit," said Haedo. "Nothing was 100 percent sure for me in the sprint. I just tried to find a good wheel and worked my way up to a good wheel, once I did that I knew I could sprint. But, tomorrow we will help the other teams work."