Duggan: Back on form in California ‘by the skin of my teeth’

U.S. champion says he's on the rise a heading into California and his national title defense

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. (VN) — It would be easy for Timmy Duggan (Saxo-Tinkoff) to blame cycling for all the bad luck he’s had — all the crashes, one of which nearly killed him in 2008, and another recent tumble at the Santos Tour Down Under that broke his leg and stopped the U.S. national champion’s spring campaign before it had begun.

He won’t do it. Duggan said on Monday that he’s riding back into form, and that the bad falls that seem drawn to him are only part of the sport, the same luck every other rider must deal with at one point or another.

“I think my story’s not dissimilar from a lot of riders. I mean, injuries are part of the game, especially in this sport. If there’s anything I’ve learned, you have to have the lows to have the highs. So, it’s how it goes,” he told VeloNews before the start of stage 2 of the Amgen Tour of California.

After a three-month racing break, Duggan returned at the Presidential Tour of Turkey in late April, and then came to California.

“It’s good. I’m just kind of lacking a little bit of consistency,” he said. “It’s hard to jump in and be perfect. Like Turkey, I got better each day, and kind of rode into the race. [Sunday] was my 12th day of racing in seven months. It comes along, but you can’t rush it and force it. I think I’ll only feel a little bit better over the course of the week as the days go by.”

Duggan’s main charge in California is to look after GC man and former winner Michael Rogers. After that, his eyes will turn to defending his national title in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

“California was definitely my first big goal. So I’m kind of just arriving here with some form by the skin of my teeth,” he said. “So we’ll see how the rest of the week goes. Obviously, our primary goal is getting another win here for ‘Mick’ Rogers. And then we’ve got national championships next week in Chattanooga, where I’ll be looking to defend my title there. And then, over to Europe for the rest of the season to start out at the Dauphiné. I’m looking forward to a strong rest of the season, and hoping to get back into form there.”

Race radio indicated that Duggan hit the deck again on Monday, but he later appeared back with the bunch, pedaling onward. And that’s becoming normal, for Duggan at least.

“I had to press the reset button and take a second off. If anything, I’m more fresh mentally and motivated than I’ve ever been this time of year,” he said.