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Timmy Duggan, giving it a shot in Utah

August 13, 2012

Timmy Duggan keeps KOM jersey for a second day, the Tour of Utah

Most athletes don’t put themselves through hours of training, pain, and isolation from friends and family because their heads tell them to. They do it because, in the words of one pro-cyclist, it’s “a need.” A passion. That kind of motivation has to make it tough to forfeit acting on what feels good in order to stick with “the plan.”

Acting on impulse can lead to a poor result. A rider goes too hard and blows up, or feels so strong he’s unconcerned about towing another rider behind him only to watch the other rider, more rested, pull away and win. The head’s important and some of the best executed plans in a bike race yield their intended results. But many do not.

Too many variables conspire against “the plan” in a bike race. A sudden thunderstorm. Cramps. Teammates who crash and can’t execute their portions of “the plan.” Competitors who don’t act as expected.

Timmy Duggan finishes Tour of Utah Stage 6

It’s easy to construct expectations about other riders’ behavior because bike racing at a professional level can unfold in an incredibly formulaic way. Like waiting until the last climb to launch an attack, which is the direction Timmy Duggan (Liquigas-Cannondale) received for Stage 5 of the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah.

Instead, Duggan did what felt right. He attacked two climbs before the final ascent up to Snowbird and joined a chase group which later merged with the break-away. Now Duggan rode at the front of the race.

Judging by his efforts at the Tour of California and in the 2012 Olympic Games’ road race, Duggan feels good at the front. It also made logical sense from a few perspectives. Riding with the yellow jersey group to the base of Snowbird might not have given him the chance to pull back 92 seconds on the race leader, Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Sharp). By joining his teammate in the break-away they could work together to increase their lead over the peloton and get a head-start up to Snowbird. Duggan also picked up KOM points, though not enough to keep the KOM jersey. He rode fast enough to drop riders in the break-away and lead the race for a while with Thomas Slagter (Rabobank).

The next day on the final stage of the race Duggan found the break-away at the beginning of the stage. This time that was the plan; the team expected a chaotic race, and chaos helps a rider out of the break-away to win.

“I just wanted to maintain the rhythm of the break and have as much a head-start into the bottom of the last climb as we could and that’s what we did,” Duggan said. “And I just had to hope that I could hang on over the climb.” Duggan dropped his break-away mates and led the race up the lower slopes of Empire Pass. Another rider bridged up to him and rode away. Duggan later crossed the finish line in Park City in 29th place, a little over six minutes behind stage winner Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma—Quick-Step).

Speaking about his goals for the day, Duggan said, “I was more looking out for the stage and if the KOM came along with it then great. Unfortunately neither happened. But hey that’s bike racing – you’ve got to give it a shot.”

Tour of Utah Stage 4 start

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