By Mark Zalewski
A newer race on the scene in the American Midwest is the Brighthouse Networks Marion Classic, stepping up its prize purse to $20,000 over two criteriums in Marion, Indiana. But an even bigger occurrence at the races will be the return of Tasmanian Karl Menzies (Health Net-Maxxis) who severely injured himself on a nasty fall at the Reading Classic of Philly Week.
Menzies told Cyclingnews that he has just recently been able to get back on the road after breaking his wrist and ribs in Reading, so measured expectations are due for this weekend. "I had a cast going for two months but got that off last Wednesday and only been on the road four times since then, so it's still tender! I thought it would be magic, take the cast off and be ready to go! It is a little slow going, but I wanted to get back in there."
As to how he found Marion to restart his season, Menzies said, "I've been spending a lot of time on the Internet with my time off, as you can imagine, and came across the race in Marion. [The promoter] has been trying to build the race and I wanted a race where I could start off a little easier. I'm not sure how I'll go but it's a step in the right direction."
The greater goal is to get his form back for the Tour of Missouri, which has become the biggest race of the season for him. Entering Philly week, Menzies had experienced a down first half of the season, but was coming on form with a second place at the Lehigh Valley Classic.
As such, his focus will be less on winning the races this weekend than getting in some racing kilometres. "Aw, s*** no!" he laughed about winning. "I've been riding on the trainer so I have fitness but nothing is like racing. I'm training for Missouri so I'll get more rides on the road and hopefully be good to go in four weeks time."
Of course, coming back from an injury, especially from a crash, can make one hesitant going into corners. "If I crash I'll be pissed! It's going to be in the back of my head because I broke five ribs, and it's not totally healed. I don't think I'll be the one guy taking the last corner Kelly Benefits style - I'll either be broken away or off the back!"
The Marion Classic is right in the middle of last weekend's big money race the Tour of Elk Grove near Chicago and the upcoming criterium national championships in Downers Grove, Illinois, so a lot of fast legs will be looking to keep their speed up. Menzies said he will also be heading to Downers Grove, in support of the current national champion Kirk O'Bee. "I'll probably make the start, but we're splitting guys with Utah. We do have the defending champ so I would like to get in there and contribute."
In addition to Menzies, more than 100 riders are expected in the pro/1/2 races, including Team Inferno with track omnium world champion Hayden Godfrey. The courses are quite varied with Friday evening's course featuring a challenging hill while Saturday is a flat riverfront course. In addition, the race will be televised on the Bright House cable network.