By Daniel Friebe, Procycling Magazine
Michael Barry wasn't a name on many people's list of favourites for the UCI World Championship elite men's road race, but then most people may not know that Barry recently took his first win in three years - a brilliant solo effort in the Tour of Missouri - nor that the Canadian had brought similar form to Varese.
When the Team Columbia man attacked between the Montello and Ronchi climbs on the final lap on Sunday, Barry briefly looked set to rejoin the leaders and contend for unlikely top-ten finish. He might have succeeded had he not been suffering from the ill-effects of the injuries sustained several hours earlier in a crash on lap two. Or, indeed, if he'd made his move just a few kilometres earlier.
In the event, Barry was quickly absorbed by the main peloton and would finish the race in 33rd position. It was a result which, the Canadian knew, did scant justice to a fine performance.
"I was pretty disappointed, because I crashed early in the race," he said. "I had good legs. I felt really good actually. I attacked on the last lap - I was trying to get away, but it was pretty difficult, because the group which eventually stayed away didn't even go on a climb - it was just in the start-finish area. I maybe should have been more aggressive and gone with them, but I hesitated, because a lot of the favourites were still in the group behind. Everyone was watching (Paolo) Bettini and (Alejandro) Valverde. I realized that I'd missed the group and tried to chase when it was too late."
Barry not only rued the timing of his attack, but also the lap-two crash which certainly affected his race - and may have curtailed his season.
"I could definitely feel the effects of the crash at the end of the race," he said. "Someone ran into me on the second lap, and I hurt my back and ribs. I think I might even have broken some ribs. I could really feel it when I took deep breaths, and when I was accelerating on corners."
Commenting on a World Championship road race which many riders considered among the toughest in recent years, Barry said that the Italian team was rewarded for taking the initiative early in the race.
"The Spaniards and Italians started accelerating pretty fast with about six or seven laps to go, which seemed very early," he said. "By the end, I think everyone was pretty dead. There weren't any token attacks on the climbs. As soon as we hit the climb, the group would slow down, because a lot of people were cramping. The guys who had the balls to attack got away...."