By Gregor Brown in Varese
American David Zabriskie closed a difficult season on a high note with a bronze medal in the World Championships time trial. He finished 52 seconds behind winner Bert Grabsch of Germany and nine seconds off of Svein Tuft of Canada on the 43.7-kilometre parcours around Varese, Italy.
Zabriskie suffered what could have been a career-ending crash in this year's Giro d'Italia stage two in Sicilia. He came down hard on a railroad crossing and fractured his L1 vertebrae. "I am satisfied. For the season I had it is good for me to have this result, so I am happy," he said.
Zabriskie worked hard on a comeback in time for the Tour de France, a race where he held the maillot jaune in 2005, but he was not able to return to competition until the Beijing Olympics in August.
He finished 12th in the Olympic Games time trial, and confirmed his return with a win in the US Professional national championships, but said that he still suffers from his injury. "Coming back from the crash in the Giro was extremely difficult. I talked to [Team Columbia's] Michael Barry; he said he had back pains for a while. ... I hope that mine will get better quicker than his."
Zabriskie finished fifth in the Tour of Missouri time trial earlier this month, but late in the stage race, he confirmed that muscle spasms troubled him.
"The course suited me better for me than Beijing. It did not have the big climb. I also had a couple of races since, which helped with my fitness. I was expecting to do well, and third is good."
Zabriskie's previous performances in the Worlds include 12th in 2007, silver in 2006 and fifth in 2005.