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American Timmy Duggan called it a career on Monday, after some time to reflect while waiting on a verbal deal with Cannondale to come through.
The announcement, posted on his website, comes after a tough 2013 campaign with Saxo-Tinkoff, during which he sustained a broken leg at the Santos Tour Down Under and never truly recovered. In a note on his site, Duggan was candid and open with his fans and the sport.
“In the ambulance to the hospital with my season-threatening injury, I began to question if this was worth it anymore. Despite plenty of support and being surrounded by incredible teammates and team staff at Saxo-Tinkoff, I hated nearly every day of the season, I was miserable and depressed. It is incredibly frustrating as an athlete to not be able to be at your best, and, even worse, I wasn’t sure if I really wanted it any more,” he wrote. “Cycling has given me a lot, but it has also taken a lot away. I wouldn’t trade my experiences, accomplishments, and relationships I’ve had in cycling for anything, but the injuries, the time away from home, and the sacrifice of so much to ride a bike faster are weighing heavy. At this point in my career, even when things are going very well, racing bikes is not making me truly happy. It doesn’t excite me like it used to. When I was thinking about the 2014 season, I couldn’t see myself being happy enough, regardless of the situation.”
Duggan, the 2012 U.S. road champion and Olympian, wrote that in recent weeks he was able to spend more time with his family and friends, and that he felt “alive” again. The 31-year-old is no stranger to pain on the bike, and the issues racing can present. He suffered a serious brain injury in a horrific crash at the Tour of Georgia in 2008. He’s broken more bones along the way (including the bad leg break early last season) and decided enough was enough. “It has become clear how important some other things are to me and how much I’m missing,” he wrote.
In place of cycling, Duggan will pursue a career in residential real estate, a family business of more than 30 years, and is working to earn a real estate license. He will also work with the Lake Eldora Racing Team. “Ski racing is my original sport and one that is very close to my heart, and I’m excited to apply the knowledge and experiences I’ve had in reaching the top levels of cycling to the next generation of aspiring Olympians in ski racing,” he wrote.
He concluded: “Cycling gave me goals and the opportunity to accomplish them, and the journey along that whole process has shaped me, and for that I am very proud. But cycling certainly doesn’t define me, and its not who I want to be anymore. Already I feel so incredibly alive as I move forward into my next ambitions.”
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- Queeny Park CX, Sunday, December 1, 2013:
Single Speed, Masters;
Australian continental team adds six new riders
- There was no rest for riders vying for standings points in the USA Cycling Professional Cyclo-cross Calendar. With a pair of races on each coast of the United States, riders quickly rebounded from Thanksgiving dinners to toe the line at Baystate Cyclo-cross NECXS in Sterling, Mass., and CXLA Weekend: Day 1 and 2-Cross After Dark in Los Angeles over the weekend.
MILAN (VN) — Oleg Tinkov succeeded on Monday. The Russian tycoon, who begged for his first bicycle at 12 years old, now owns a first division team with a reported budget of $15 to $17 million.
“I’m proud and happy,” Tinkov said Monday at a press conference in London announcing his purchase of Riis Cycling and the Saxo-Tinkoff team. “I finally have my top, WorldTour team.”
He was effusive from the time Bjarne Riis introduced him alongside Alberto Contador, and the 45-year-old did not need to waste his words. His grin said everything.
Riis’ grey suit matched Tinkov’s, but the now former team owner looked blank in contrast at Google’s London headquarters. The tall, bald Dane from Herning just sold his baby, his team of 14 years. Though a reported $8.12m richer, he now reports to Tinkov, the man with whom he was at odds for much of 2013. The unlikely pair sealed the deal officially with vodka at the upscale Bob Bob Ricard restaurant in London’s Soho district.
A dream within reach
For Tinkov, the toast celebrated a significant step toward his dream. He told VeloNews in Venice in 2008 that he aimed to win the Tour de France and to wave a Russian flag on the Champs Élysées.
“I’ll keep going in with my business,” he said after selling his then team, Tinkoff Credit Systems. “When my money is there, I’ll have my own top-level team.”
Tinkov ran the Tinkoff Credit Systems from 2007 through 2008 with a mixed bag of professionals. He hired Tyler Hamilton, Jörg Jaksche, Danilo Hondo, Vasil Kiryienka, and a handful of Russians and Italians. It worked. Kiryienka won stages in the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España in Tinkov’s yellow colors. Since then, the Belarusian has developing into a key domestique for Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome at Sky.
Providing a hint of his passion for the sport, Tinkov admitted at the time that Kiryienka’s win in the Giro d’Italia stage to Presolana made him emotional. He had steered the young rider from the track to the road and saw a little of himself in Kiryienka’s fight, and Tinkov was no stranger to fighting.
Tinkov a self-made patriarch
“My mom and dad couldn’t afford a bike, let alone a moped,” Tinkov explained in London on Monday, describing his roots in cycling. “I went to a shop, got a free one, and took to racing. I became the Siberian champion.”
Tinkov’s own racing career never passed the junior ranks, but he rose to prominence after leaving the military, heading an electronics distribution brand, Technoshock, before succeeding with a brewery business and then his credit bank. With his sale of Tinkoff Brewery to InBev in 2005, the Russian became wealthy enough to field a third division team, Tinkoff Restaurants, and register himself as a rider. In 2007 he invested more and went professional with his mixed bag of pros.
He called the 2007 and 2008 seasons “wild and entertaining” on Monday. Aside from Kiryienka’s stage wins, the team mostly rode in escapes. Russians Mikhail Ignatiev and Pavel Brutt marked many races with solo or long-distance escapes. Hamilton never saw much action due to brewing doping investigations.
Like his other businesses, Tinkov sold the team. He offered it to Igor Makarov, who, according to Tinkov, is just as passionate about cycling but much wealthier. Makarov, head of natural gas giant Itera and the Russian cycling, renamed that team Katusha and took it to the first division. Brutt and Ignatiev continue to race in the team’s red colors alongside three-time WorldTour champion Joaquím Rodríguez.
Conflict follows Tinkov
The Katusha deal highlighted a common thread: conflicts. Tinkov was supposed to continue in the team as general manager but fell out with Makarov over his decision to hire former professional Andrei Tchmil.
Controversy also abounded at Tinkoff Credit Systems, where Tinkov hired riders with known links to doping cases. “[Hiring] Tyler and the German guy [Jaksche] was a mistake,” he said after the pair became ensnared in the Operación Puerto investigation — dating back to their time with Riis at CSC. Hamilton told Danish media last year that Tinkov instructed his riders at the first team meeting that they should do whatever they need to succeed, as long as they did not get caught.
Tinkov returned to top-level pro cycling last season to co-sponsor Riis’ team. This season, he criticized Contador via his Twitter account, writing, “His salary doesn’t match his performance. Too rich and isn’t hungry. He must work harder,” and pulled his sponsorship from the team. Saxo Bank kicked in the extra funds to cover 2014 and it appeared that Riis and Saxo would forge ahead, until Tinkov appeared at the team’s training camp in November.
Contador dismissed the controversy today, saying, “I know you question and raise eyebrows about what was said, but I can tell you whatever happened and was said is a long way behind us. His involvement brings stability to the team.”
Tinkov’s involvement, and his Riis Cycling deal, also puts him at the top. The Saxo-Tinkoff name will change to Tinkoff-Saxo for 2014, and Riis Cycling is now Tinkoff Sport. On Monday, the boy from Siberia moved a little closer to waving a Russian flag on the Champs Élysées.