Duggan feeling fierce again for Pro Challenge
Special to the Daily
Vail, CO Colorado
When Boulder pro cyclist Timmy Duggan rolled into Durango for the 2012 Pro Cycling Challenge over the weekend, the scene of the world’s top cyclists pouring into Fort Lewis College reminded him of the Olympic Village.
Duggan recently returned to the U.S. from London, where he helped U.S. teammate Taylor Phinney (competing in the Pro Challenge for BMC racing) to a near medal, fourth-place finish in the Olympic road race. It’s safe to say that all in all, it’s been a banner year for Duggan.
The 29-year-old who did a stint as an alpine ski racer as a teenager and who suffered what would have been to a lesser athlete a career-ending crash in the 2008 Tour de Georgia, won the USPRO National Championship this year and also the King of the Mountain jersey in first two stages of the prestigious Vuelta Catalunya. Because of his scrappy riding style, the Liquigas-Cannondale cyclist was also just invited to join team SpiderTech-C10 for 2013. But his vision at the moment is tightened down on the Pro Challenge.
“I’m prepared for the race. I know the course better than anybody in the peloton,” Duggan says. “We have a stacked Liquigas team. Normally my role is to help them out and be the last man standing on these climbs, but I’d like to have a go at the stage finishing in Aspen … and also the one in Boulder.”
A Boulder native, Duggan and his wife just moved from the base of Flagstaff Mountain – where Stage 6 wraps up on Saturday – to Nederland. Throughout the race, a sea of his supporters will be wearing lime green T-shirts, matching Duggan’s own bright helmet and representing his Just Go Harder Foundation.
His habit of hammering ahead in the peloton is what earned Duggan the Most Aggressive Rider jersey in last year’s Pro Challenge, but this week, he’s aiming for the podium.
“Winning that jersey comes as a by-product of racing hard, racing for the win,” he says. “That’s kind of a bonus. I’m not the best sprinter. I’m not the best climber. I have to race aggressively and put on a show. I hope to pick the right moments to go this week.”
Knowing the course as well as he knows his own neighborhood is key in picking those moments. This, along with his conditioned lungs, gives Duggan an advantage on some of the international big guns coming in for the race.
“For me, it’s not so important to spend time before the race doing reconnaissance because I’ve known these roads for years,” he says. “Getting at a high level of racing is the big thing. Even if I haven’t been at altitude, being from here, I can adapt again really quickly. The key to success for anybody – it doesn’t matter if you’re fresh off the Tour de France podium – you have to adapt. The race gets progressively more and more difficult, there could be a lot of potential time gaps and fireworks. It could flip flop any time.”
To be an Olympian
Competing in the Olympics was a hallmark in Duggan’s career. And although he has the UCI and world championships still lying ahead this year, the Pro Challenge lies closer to his heart – and home – than any other competition.
“All of a sudden, even though this race is so young, it’s become huge,” he says. “The support in this part of the country for bike racing is incredible, the communities are so enthusiastic. I think that’s unique in the world. We’re not seeing it unless it’s the Tour de France or the Giro (d’Italia) or the Olympics. It’s also become an important competition. We have a lot of cards to play. You don’t come here from Europe to mess around and be on vacation.”
Although he wasn’t on vacation in London, the Olympic experience set itself apart from any other Duggan has ever had.
“The Olympics is so unique, especially for road cycling. We have one event every four years. It’s not like swimming where you have 27 events. I was really proud that my whole team USA did our jobs and finished just out of the medals,” he says. “I was super proud we got it right on that one day every four years. But for me, the Olympic experience is outside of cycling. It’s this thing that’s so much bigger than cycling. It’s this thing that stops the world for two weeks. People put everything down and watch. To be a part of that, that whole environment is unreal. Whether you’re a cyclist, shotputter or swimmer, you’re all wearing the Ralph Lauren uniform and Team USA bonds no matter what sport you’re in.”
And since he brought it up … what does Duggan think of those Ralph Lauren uniforms?
“Well, I don’t know how I feel about myself in a beret,” he says. “I didn’t get to bust mine out for the Opening Ceremonies because we had our race early the next morning. I’m going to bust it out for Halloween, though. How to accessorize it? I don’t know. Maybe I could put on some scary makeup and be like a dead Olympian. I know! I can put a javelin through my chest. That should get people’s attention.”
Duggan has a way of getting people’s attention. Look for his lime green helmet in the Pro Challenge peloton this week.
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