Last week Timothy Duggan announced that the 2013 season would be final in the professional peloton. When riding as an amateur rider, the former American champion had three targets and as he has reached two of them, he feels ready to move on from his cycling career.
The cycling world lost one of its hardest working and most likeable characters last week when Timothy Duggan announced his retirement. Despite having a contract offer from Cannondale on the table, the former American champion felt that it was finally time to listen to the doubts that had plagued him for several years.
After two years at Cannondale, Duggan was ready to start a new chapter in his career when he signed with the Spidertech team for the 2013 season. Wearing the American champion's jersey, he was ready to get more personal opportunities after having worked for Peter Sagan in numerous races.
However, the race suddenly folded and left Duggan in an unexpected situation but was thrown a lifeline by Team Saxo-Tinkoff. His time at the Danish team never became a success as he spent the year struggling after breaking his femur in January's Tour Down Under.
Nonetheless, his past performances had still secured him a ride with Cannondale in 2014 but as it had been the case for many years, he had doubts whether he wanted to continue. This time he decided to pull the plug.
"To tell you the truth, ever since my brain injury in 2008, pretty much every year after that there was a point during the season where I’d think, ‘Yeah, this is my last year,’" he told Velonews. "But then at the end of the day, the end of the season, I’m having enough fun, I’m happy with the situation, I’m still continuing an upward progression and improving and I keep going, you know? But this year, for a variety of reasons, fundamentally, it’s just time to move on. It’s that simple. Nothing, all of a sudden, was so drastically different or anything … I’m ready to move on.
"I was definitely on the fence," he added. "I mean, after the Cannondale contract was taking a while, and I was like, ‘All right, what’s going on here?’ I started thinking a little more, and it was kind of an emotional roller coaster. I was like, ‘Yeah, I could stop.’ And then, in the space of 30 seconds, I’d be like, ‘No, I still have things I want to do in the sport.’ Literally, I’d go back and forth five times in the course of 10 minutes, and it was going like that for like two weeks. And then, I started having more conversations with Cannondale and things were moving in the right direction, so it was looking, like, ‘All right. I guess this is happening.’ And then it was really hitting home. This was decision time."
He made the final decision at the end of his first ride on his road bike for some time.
"I went on one road ride just through the mountains for a few hours," he said. "And I’m like, ‘I’m gonna do a soul ride. I’m going to walk in the door to my house, and I’m gonna have a decision.’ And so that’s what I did. And even during that ride I went back and forth 100 times."
Few riders have had a more troubled career than Duggan. He suffered a brain injury in a dramatic crash in the 2008 Tour de Georgia but managed to fight his way back to the top level. Furthermore, he has had his fair share of broken bones, with the fractured femur being the most recent in a long string of health issues.
Nonetheless, he managed to win his national championships which earned him a spot on the American team for the 2012 Olympics. Those accomplishments make him proud of his career.
"I was a national champion," he said. "I was an Olympian. I mean, those are two things I scrawled on a note card when I was a cat. 3 amateur that I wanted to do in the sport. And I wanted to ride the Tour. And to get two out of those three? I’m happy with that. And at this point I’m not willing to — maybe I would have ridden the Tour next year. Maybe I wouldn’t have ridden it for seven more years. Maybe I never would have ridden it. But it doesn’t matter. I wasn’t willing to make that sacrifice, that commitment, to reach those things anymore.
While his injuries may have been hard to overcome, they are now part of what makes him proud of his time in the cycling world.
"I could tell you a bunch of opportunities on paper that were lost because of an injury," he said. "Equally, I could tell you some amazing things that have happened to me because of that injury. So, I’m not really gonna say, ‘It really sucks I had a head injury. It really sucks I broke my arm.’ Yeah, those sucked, and definitely a lost opportunity, but it certainly made me tougher, and it made being back at your best that much sweeter. Coming back from my brain injury, that was the highlight of my career, just to have said I was able to come back, and get to the top; that the best results of my career came after that."
Duggan now plans to return to the world of skiing which he has had limited time for while riding as a professional bike rider, and pursue a career in real estate.
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