Marc de Maar (UnitedhHealthcare p/b Maxxis) was forced to downscale his ambitions for the upcoming Amgen Tour of California following a hip injury that left him three weeks behind schedule in his preparations for the marquee event. The Dutch all-rounder will take the first few stages in stride before making concrete goals for the eight-stage race set to begin this sunday in nevada city.
"Anything is possible," De Maar told Cyclingnews. "What I do know is that I will not be good enough for eight days in a row. I will probably have some good days and probably have some bad days, too. I think especially in the last few hilly days there are some possibilities for early breakaways, especially when the overall classification is set. Those back in the classification will have more space and I will be looking for those opportunities."
De Maar crashed and injured his hip in the National Racing Calendar (NRC) opener at the Redlands Bicycle Classic in March. The accident resulted in a three-week recovery period that left De Maar playing catch up before the biggest race of the year. He recently competed in the Vuelta Bisbee and SRAM Tour of the Gila to test his legs.
"It was my first race with the team and I was out for three weeks after that," De Maar said. "I couldn't ride my bike. I injured my hip and my whole body was crooked. It was a rough start to the season. Gila was one of my goals for this winter but because of the crash it turned into a preparation race for the Tour of California."
De Maar was one of the marquee riders recruited by the UnitedHealthcare team for the 2010 season. His experience as a former ProTour rider for the Rabobank team was intended to give his new US-based Continental squad an edge in high level American bike races like the Amgen Tour. The addition of a mountaintop finish to this year's parcours along with a lengthy time trial suited his strengths.
"To be honest, I don't know how I will be here," De Maar continued. "I was going better than I thought I would be after my injury, but I should know in the first couple of days. The rest of the team went to ride Big Bear but I was injured so I couldn't go with them. I heard some nice stories about it. We start at sea level and we go up to 2,500 metres. I'm looking forward to that day."
De Maar arrived Stateside after a four-year term with the Rabobank ProTour team. He spent the majority of his career with the Dutch squad, beginning with the youth program in 2001 and 2002, followed by the amateur team in 2004 and 2005 before joining the ProTour ranks.
"I know most of the riders that are racing here this week," De Maar said. "It is really nice to see my old friends from Rabobank racing here in this country. I feel like I am at home right now."
UnitedHealthcare will field an eight-man team that includes De Maar, Rory Sutherland, Chris Baldwin, Andrew Pinfold, Matt Crane, Max Jenkins, Karl Menzies and Brad White. "I think Sutherland, Pinfold and Baldwin have the most experience and that is what we will need for a race like this," De Maar added.