By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin
Superweek's overall series leader from day one, Sterling Magnell (Rock Racing), had been frustrated over the past seven races that his leader's jersey acts as a target making it nearly impossible to get into a breakaway. That was not the case in Friday's race in Ripon, Wisconsin, a 1km course that was always up or down with power climbs. Magnell found himself in a strong four rider break up half a lap early in the race, but in a case of bad luck or perhaps karma, his rear wheel flatted into one of the technical turns, sending him to the ground hard and out of the race.
"I was in the break with a half lap up and my rear tire just blew in the middle of turn three," he told Cyclingnews. "The next thing I know I woke up on the curb!"
With a rider losing consciousness the assessment by the safety team resulted in Magnell being sent the the hospital. Magnell had a cat scan, but fortunately the diagnosis was not serious. "I had a concussion. I went to the ER and they stitched me up, seven above my eye and my lip is swollen. People take one look at me and they just turn away. It's like I have leprosy or something!"
Of course, Magnell was frustrated that he was in his first good breakaway since day one. "I know! I was just giving it out there because I am good at small courses with power climbs, so I was stoked."
Since his injuries are mostly superficial he said he is planning on starting today - not so much to defend his lead but to not get out of the rhythm of racing 17 days. "I would really like to start. Any other situation I would take the day off, but I know from experience if you take the day off you get really stiff and tired. Even if it's raining, I love the rain. So I'll go out there and see what happens."
Indeed, the forecast is for rain all day at the race in Waukesha, Wisconsin -- which again features many tight turns that caused the race to be stopped twice last year.
As for defending his lead, Magnell is looking forward to next week where there are two road stages with double points on the line. I'm really riding stronger in this race, each day."