NEDERLAND — Timmy Duggan had so many visions for this new cycling season. Crumpled on a steaming South Australian street 9,000 miles from home on Jan. 23 with a broken tibia and collarbone was not one of them.
Not that it was a scary time, but the pain from crashing his knee into a curb at 45 mph in the Tour Down Under was the least of his worries.
"It didn't even hurt that bad," Duggan said Wednesday from his new home here. "I feel like when I've stubbed my toe or something stupid like that I've hurt way more. What hurt more was as I was laying there 30 seconds after I crashed, the most pain was just the realization that 'Oh, man, I think I'm hurt. Oh, man, all the months of work are gone, that the next months of racing and my goals are gone.' "
Initial reports indicated the U.S. road race champion would have an extended stay in an Australian hospital and might miss several months as he recuperated. Duggan, who returned to Colorado on Monday, said he expects to race next in the Tour of California on May 12-19. The 2001 Fairview High School graduate limped around Wednesday in a full leg brace and shook hands with his left hand. His goals, shockingly, remain intact.
He said he expects to get back on his bike in six weeks, ride with no restrictions in eight or nine weeks and race in 12 weeks.
"It's a broken bone, and broken bones are fairly standard," Duggan said. "So, I'm lucky for that."
The problem is the timing. Duggan joined the Danish-based Team Saxo-Tinkoff after two years as a domestique with Italy's Team Liquigas Cannondale. Under team director Bjarne Riis, Saxo-Tinkoff is an equal-opportunity employer. Even boasting five-time Grand Tour winner Alberto Contador, every Saxo-Tinkoff rider has a chance to win stages.
Then, in the first race in his new uniform, Duggan winds up in a hospital.
"It's certainly not the debut I wanted," he said. "I was fit and motivated and ready to go. I blew out the cobwebs the first couple days of racing there and learning how my new team operated and how we communicated. I started feeling really comfortable and let her rip on that stage I crashed on."
The crash came on Stage 3, which started in Unley and finished with six 12-mile laps through the town of Stirling.
"I was going high speed through a roundabout, 45 mph or something," Duggan said. "I don't even know. I was just going through the roundabout like I had the last four times. It wasn't a new section or anything.
"I just dumped it in the corner. I don't know if someone pushed me or if it was pilot error. I just know I went from on the bike to sliding on the ground in a split second."
Add the broken tibia to Duggan's long injury history that includes a brain hematoma, three broken bones in his left arm, a broken shoulder and a broken elbow. The collarbone?
Duggan can't remember how many times he has broken it.
"I'm not afraid," Duggan said. "I'm certainly more calculated with my risks. At this point in time, I wasn't pushing it or taking a risk. That's how a lot of crashes happen in cycling, in the ho-hum moment of a race when you're not expecting it."
That's only one reason he's not changing his style.
"I like to go fast," he said. "That's one thing I notice after being injured and you can't do anything. What do you miss? I hate riding the (stationary) trainer. I don't miss the exercise or the endorphins.
"But I do miss going fast."