A crash near the finish of the team time trial course during a test run Saturday may have dashed the hopes for the Optum Pro Cycling women’s team’s chances for a top result in Sunday’s World Championship.
The six-rider squad, which finished just seconds off the podium last year, was nearing the finish of the 38.8km course in Richmond when the lead rider hit a pothole in the road and took down most of her teammates. Annie Ewart was transported a local hospital with shoulder injuries and Maura Kinsella suffered a likely mild concussion.
"Right before we got to that corner there was a team stopped on the right with a mechanical and there was a lot of police around that, so there was just a lot of confusion," team director Pat McCarty told Cyclingnews while waiting for his riders outside the medical tent.
"We were going into a corner that was one of the more important ones near the end, so I think it was just, you know, you lose a bit of focus and then your focus is on and then off, then on then off. So it was just the right set of circumstances. We didn't see the pothole and we just hit it square on, and five of our six riders crashed."
"Tomorrow is still in question," McCarty said, adding that all five riders who went down are banged up and bruised. "We just have to get through and see where everybody is at, see how everybody is feeling, see where our numbers are at, see where the morale is. We're here to race the World Championships, so I think in some form or function we're going to have a team start, but really this is more or less disastrous for us."
Optum missed the podium last year by six seconds, finishing behind the Astana Bepink women's team. Both Kinsella and Ewart will not start Sunday, but the team has alternate Alison Tetrick at its disposal. McCarty was clearly disappointed with the circumstances, as the team has been targeting this race since the beginning of the season.
"Everything we've done this year and everything we've done over the last 10 days to lead up to this, to build up to it, I don't know if you could describe anything worse than just kind of a bad joke to have it come crashing down like this," he said.
"I hope that we can keep the spirit up and have some kind of team tomorrow and make a valiant effort for the race we came here to do, but I think in terms of our performance, this kind of put an end to any hopes we had of doing the best we possibly could with this team."