Three resilient riders are pinning numbers on this week in Europe after some serious injuries caused setbacks at the outset of the 2016 season. American Chad Haga and his Giant – Alpecin teammate Warren Barguil both fell victim to a shocking training crash caused by an inattentive driver. Another American, Cannondale’s Ben King, is also back in the mix this week after a broken fibula suffered while training in January.
Haga wrote extensively about his road to recovery in a journal entry, published earlier on Monday. He’ll race Dwars Door Vlaanderen, a first for the 27-year-old. After that, he’ll race Critérium International in France.
His French teammate, Barguil finished his first race of the season, stage 1 of Volta a Catalunya on Monday, comfortably in the peloton, 22nd place. “Warren had a good recovery period and he will carefully continue to build up his fitness level.” said coach Morten Bennekou. It’s good news for Giant’s GC hopeful, who was very shaken by the traumatic January crash that resulted in a fractured left scaphoid.
King has worked hard to rebuild his fitness as well, even managing a seven-hour ride on the trainer to be ready for his first race back, which is also the weeklong Catalan tour.
“At times I felt estranged, like I was missing something,” said King. “A lot of relationships are strengthened at the beginning of the season as you learn to work together. I did stay in contact with most of the guys during the recovery. It was nice to feel included, and I definitely followed the races like a fanatical fan. I missed the all-or-nothing, do-or-die team efforts. I missed my friends on the team.”
The 26-year-old Virginian came home in the second group in Monday’s stage 1, 6:43 down on the leaders, 148th place. His Cannondale team is focusing on its GC leader, Rigoberto Uran, who is building form ahead of the Giro d’Italia.
“After months of training in the winter I was ready to test myself. I’m still rebuilding form, but I’m strong enough to be useful to the team now,” King added.