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PEZ Talk: Timmy Duggan’s Comeback
Comebacks are great, the return from a severe, potentially life-threatening injury, like in the case of Garmin’s Timmy Duggan, is nothing short of inspiring. Turning a comeback into a leap forward in performance? That is something on an entirely bigger level, something that Timmy Duggan managed to pull off at the Dauphine Libere in June when he very nearly sprinted to victory. 2nd place was an incredible stamp of return for the Coloradoan.

PEZ: Let’s start first, your huge result on the final stage of the Dauphine…take me through the stage.
The whole week of the Dauphine I had really been assessing my thought processes during the race and trying to address them and make improvements. The most difficult thing about my return to racing has been getting that last few percent during the intense moments of racing, when you need to be automatic, trusting your instincts and just in control of the moment. During the Dauphine things were just starting to click, like “oh yeah, now i remember how i used to approach that situation, like suffering really bad or covering an attack, or whatever.”

I was just becoming more and more aware and things were just getting easier and more automatic, and then on that last stage it all came together. It all just felt so easy, even though my power output for the day was higher than any day all week! The 30 guy break wasn’t really a break, more of a split. That’s a good chunk of the field! I was the only Garmin in there so I just hid out and chilled and tried not to do too much. Then when we hit the category 1 climb with 40k to go I apparently had the best legs and just dropped everybody, kind of surprised myself really.

Timmy rode an impressive climb to drop everyone, then waited on Stef Clement to do battle over the final kilometers.

It was still a long way to the finish and I didnt want to do it all alone, so I figured waiting for Stef Clement, who was just 15 seconds behind me near the summit was a good idea, given that he is a World Championship TT medalist. Good guy to have riding with you to stay away I reckon. So we met up over the top, I slayed the descent, then we kept it up all the way to the finish.

PEZ: The finale – you came oh so close, I’m sure that had to be a bittersweet moment…
It felt sooooo good to just feel alive again and be racing for the win at that high level again. That in itself was a victory for me. All season so far I’ve just been trying to regain those sensations again, to feel alive, and to be honest I hadn’t been so motivated by the thought of winning. I just wanted to feel normal and healthy again. So then on the last stage I put my self in a situation to win almost before I realized what I had done.

But let me tell you, after losing by a few inches I definitely have the eye of the tiger again. Everything with recovering from my brain injury has been not realizing I was missing something until it finally comes back. I didnt realize I was missing that deep down in my soul need to win until now. I feel like I have a different sense of purpose in my training and racing again.

PEZ: How was the rest of the Dauphine up to that point?
Hard! Lots of uphill parts.

PEZ: What was it like riding up some of the most famous climbs in bike racing: Izoard, Galibier, Croix de Fer?
Also hard. It sucks starting up the Croix de Fer and seeing the sign that says Col de la Croix de Fer, 28km. Those are some beautiful climbs, its easy to see why they are so engrained in cycling history.

PEZ: What’s next? Are you fired up?
Tour of Austria. Im really psyched to carry my improved mentality and some form into this next race. Also, the race is a notch below Pro Tour, so it will be nice to maybe have a bit easier field to deal with for once. I’ve done nothing but ProTour races since mid March.

PEZ: You mention that your wife is with you now after a long time apart. That must be tough…
Yeah. Between January 1 and June 1 when her and my dog arrived here in Europe, we’d been together 3 1/2 weeks total. Shes an elementary school gym teacher back in Colorado. So its tough in the spring when were both working, but then shes here all summer, and Im home all winter. So it works out.

PEZ: How has your season gone up until this point? Highs? Lows?
It has really been a slow steady build up all year. The team has given me a really nice schedule all year combing quality high level racing with enough rest and training time in between. So each race I’ve been feeling more comfortable, confident, and faster. The low would be just feeling flat for so long…I had a brain injury plus almost a year off of racing and training hard. It took a long time to get back to the level where I was before, and then I had to get even better than that, because the ProTour level is even another notch above that. So it was really relieving and gratifying to have that ride at the Dauphine, to know that I finally have back what it takes to win at this level.

The sprint was agonizing to watch. Timmy came close, but couldn’t quite come ’round Clement.

PEZ: I saw you mentioned how hard Catalunya was. Tell me more…
Ha, yeah, just a lot of fast climbing. even the couple days that were field sprints we’d go over a couple category 2 climbs full gas with the field exploding, then coming back together.

PEZ: It must have been pretty cool to have a guy in Dan Martin who had a rider like Valverde in his sights…
Dan was really impressive there. Im really excited to see how the Tour goes for him. He’s definitely world class in the mountains.

PEZ: Is the Vuelta a possibility?
Yeah. Really looking forward to my first Grand Tour there.

PEZ: You’re doing the Tour of Austria, correct? What kind of ambitions do you take to a race like that?
I just want to do my best each day and see what happens. Id love to be in it for a stage win though.

PEZ: What kind of rider would you describe yourself as?
All-rounder diesel engine. I climb, time trial, and recover really well. It takes me a while to get up to speed but once Im going I go pretty fast. And I just get stronger as the race goes on.

PEZ: Any specific goals for the rest of the season?
I want to contribute to Garmin-Slipstreams successes at the Vuelta Espana. But again, my biggest goal is simply to do my best each day and maximize any opportunities that arise.

PEZ: When you’re building for a big race, what does your training look like?
My coach Allen Lim and I have a pretty good pre race week routine developed. Ill typically get a good rest block in for 3 or for days, then a shorter intensity day, then a long solid endurance pace day, then a couple days ez with travel and then im ready to race. I need that block of hard training real close to the race so all my systems are turned on, otherwise I just feel flat the first few days of the race.

2nd place was an incredible statement from the returning Garmin rider. Look for much more from Timmy this year and beyond.

PEZ: What is it like living in Girona? It seems like it would be pretty cool.
It’s really nice. We have a great english speaking community over here with the Americans, Canadians, and some Aussie/Zew Zealanders. My wife has friends to hang out with when Im gone at a race. If theres ever any problem with anything, somebody will know someone or some way to fix it. It makes a lot of things a lot easier The drawback is you pretty much cant walk through the center of town without running into some bike rider that you know. Its good to get away from it all sometimes!

PEZ: Anyone you train with regularly?
Yeah, just whomever. A lot of us will send out an email to a group of guys saying, “hey im doin this loop with these intervals tomorrow, anyone want to join?” So we get a lot of little groups going. Makes things a little more productive and fun. But I actually train by myself more often than not!

PEZ: What was it like for you on the first anniversary of your crash at the Tour of Georgia?
It was kind of strange, after that date past I started to put more and more pressure on myself to feel 100% again and perform at my old level. The doctors think I would be able to race for a full year after my injury, and even then no guarantees that I could be at the same level after that. So being an ambitious athlete I told myself that meant I should be healthy and feeling great after the one year anniversary. well, I wasnt. I was ok, not bad, but not great either. So it was still stressing me out that It might really take longer to feel normal again. Im not talking about getting a certain result or anything, I just wanted the same feelings and sensations again. And a year out I still didnt feel perfect so I would get kinda bummed about it.

PEZ: Favorite place to race?
Anywhere with big mountains,little towns.

PEZ: Best food on the road in Europe?
Not sure that exists. Maybe an ice cream bar and some Pringles? But at the hotels, I love it when they actually care and maybe feed us some local specialty.

PEZ: Worst?
We had this meal at a hotel for Vuelta Catalunya last month that was so bad, it was just funny. The waiter served us individually with pride this cold gummy pasta that had obviously been made a few days before and left in the fridge. The steak was leathery and dry and the mushrooms and sauce I wouldnt have fed to a dog. I just laughed and had some bananas and peanut butter for dinner instead. I usually have some hot sauce with me from home to spice up any meal but this one was beyond repair.

PEZ: What music are you listening to of late?
I like the Kings of Leon. And, I just figured out on iTunes that there are all these streaming radio stations of all kinds, so Ive been rockin those a lot.

PEZ: Any good books, movies, entertainment?
Yeah I read a lot. Usually go through a couple books during a stage race. Ive recently read “Hot, Flat, and Crowded”, “In Defense of Food”, and the autobiography of ski racer Hermann Maier.

PEZ: If you could have one thing from home, what would it be?
A Chipotle Burrito of course…

Timmy just did a cool article with Epicurious on what the diet of an elite athlete looks like. Well worth the read. While you are at it, don’t forget Ed Hood’s first interview with Timmy back in December!

Want to follow Timmy’s adventures on the ProTour? Check out Timmy Duggan and Ian Macgregor’s great site,

While you’re there, take a look at the Just Go Harder Foundation .


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