Danny Summerhill’s quest for a cyclocross world championship hit a snag Saturday when the reining U.S. national U23 `cross champion suffered a shoulder injury before a local race in Boulder, Colorado.
The Holowesko Partners rider, third overall in September’s Tour of China, crashed hard in the sand at the Boulder Reservoir when he came up short while bunny hopping a log during warm-ups.
“I cleared the log and I basically landed with my front wheel in the sand and endoed,” said Summerhill. “It must have been 5 mph that I was crashing, but I landed right on my shoulder.”
Summerhill said he knew within a minute that his injury was severe and he left the venue immediately for the emergency room at the Boulder Community Hospital. A nurse first diagnosed him with a fracture, but the doctor downgraded that diagnosis to a separation.
“They couldn’t tell me anything conclusive at the ER,” said Summerhill. “They just gave me an x-ray and morphine.”
On Monday a specialist at the Steadman-Hawkins Clinic in Denver confirmed that Summerhill had suffered a grade three or four separation.
“On the x-ray it looks like I’ve popped the bones out of the ligaments, but we don’t know if it’s popped backward, which would mean surgery,” said Summerhill, who visited his team physician Kevin Reichlin Tuesday morning.
“He’s very optimistic actually,” said Summerhill of his visit with Reichlin. “He said if we taped you hard enough maybe we could see you racing the USGP (New Belgium Cup).”
The New Belgium Cup is the third stop in the national series and takes place November 13-14 in northern Colorado.
Summerhill said that he is trying to balance the importance of the national series against the potential for a more severe injury if he were to crash again. “There’s a chance I’ll be there in Fort Collins,” said Summerhill, “If I fall again it could be bad and mean surgery, but the young heartedness in me makes me want to get out there.”
The injury puts in jeopardy Summerhill’s planned start at the next round of the World Cup November 27 in Koksijde, Belgium. Summerhill’s main focus for the season is the world championships, which are gridded based on UCI points and the World Cups offer the most significant points.
“The other thing that’s making me nervous is that I’m supposed to be in Europe next Tuesday with the national team,” he said. “If I miss one (World Cup), I’m out of the running for a spot in the first two rows at the world championships.”
Without a start spot in the front two rows, a run at the world championship will be a tall order for Summerhill, who has shown his best form ever in 2010. A strong road season gave way to indications that Summerhill’s ’cross fitness is coming around after a solid ride at the Boulder Cup ended with a puncture. If he can recover in time to nail down a good start position, Summerhill should be a serious contender for the world title in Sankt Wendel, Germany in January 2011.
Summerhill was back on the trainer over the weekend and expected to undergo an MRI later in the week. He said he would gauge his ability to return to the circuit based on his pain level Friday and the MRI results.
“This is the most pain I’ve had, but if I had a bone sticking into the muscle, I think I would be in 24-hour screaming pain,” he said.