A nightmare 24 hours for Jamis-Sutter Home rider Nick Frey culminated in him being forced to abandon the opening stage of the Tour do Rio. The Colorado native crashed in Wednesday’s neutral zone after hitting a cat’s eye on the edge of the road, soon after departing Rio de Janiero, resulting in a serious cut to his left knee.
"I was getting the bike ready, putting the wheel back on and I was like, wow, I can see through to my tendon," Frey told Cyclingnews, still grimacing from the memory. As well as the knee injury, by far the most serious, the 24-year-old also suffered abrasions to his left elbow and ankle.
"It was nasty. The guy worked faster than the anaesthetic - it was really bad. The doctors and the medical people were great though. At first they weren’t sure they could stitch it because there was nothing there [to stitch]. I’m just really disappointed."
It was almost the trip to Brazil that never was for Frey and teammate Tyler Wren - the pair lucky to escape immigration officials at the airport on the eve of the race.
Both had raced in Sao Paulo last October, but did not realise that the visa they had at the time, only gave them entry to the country for 90 days and would not cover them for the Tour do Rio.
"We thought we had a five year visa," Frey explained. "The federal police were like ‘stop - get in the room’ and they had guns and stuff. It was really pretty bad; we thought we were going on the plane home last night. So it’s kind of like shocking that we’re still here."
Wren had gone through immigration ahead of Frey, but the condition of his visa had gone unnoticed - until his teammate brought it to the attention of officials who pointed out that the pair had the same visa from their earlier trip.
"That’s one of the great things about cycling you get to travel the world," he said, looking on the bright side.
Frey meanwhile was beginning to wonder if maybe his near-exclusion from Brazil the night before was something of a sign - "It was so hard to get here."
The Tour do Rio was supposed to be Frey’s final preparation before next month’s Tour of Utah. He will now stay on in Brazil, using the time to allow his knee to heal properly.
"We’re in the middle of nowhere. I’m just going to hang out. It’s really hard to walk, I can’t ride - whether I’m here or sitting at home in Colorado - it doesn’t matter."