LIVERMORE, California (VN) — For American Timmy Duggan, his pulls on the front of the Amgen Tour of California in Liquigas lime green couldn’t be sweeter.
The 29-year-old Colorado man has been quite visible taking monster turns early on in this race, stringing out the bunch for teammate Peter Sagan, who’s won the first two stages.
Liquigas-Cannondale is a threat here to win both the general classification and the points jersey. And Duggan, though you won’t see his name up high in the results in the Amgen Tour, is a big reason why.
On Sunday’s opening stage, Duggan pressed hard at the front for about 5km of the last 20, and brought the group toward Santa Rosa lean and fast, perfectly on plan for Sagan, who easily won the sprint.
His role on a strong team comes at the right time for the ski racer turned bike racer.
He started his professional career with Slipstream-Chipotle (now Garmin-Barracuda) but was a casualty of the Garmin and Cervelo merger. He and fellow American Ted King ultimately landed with Liquigas, American riders on the Cannondale-sponsored team.
Initially, Duggan wasn’t getting much race time, but after one season on the books with Liquigas, he finds himself taking monster pulls on sketchy descents and over rollers in California, lining Sagan up for wins. Earlier this spring he wore the King of the Mountains Jersey at the 2012 Tour of Catalunya for two days as well.
“The opportunity here with Liquigas has been pretty cool,” Duggan said. “I spent, literally, my whole pro career at Garmin. I was just kind of ready to do something different.”
Different is what he got. He now rides for an Italian team: the language is different; the training his different; his role is different.
“I think that’s the stuff that can put your career in a different direction,” he said. “It’s certainly great to be riding with guys like [Vincenzo] Nibali, [Ivan] Basso and Sagan. Yeah, you’re busting your ass, but those guys can win races.”
On May 28, he has a chance to race for himself, at the USA Cycling Pro National Championships in Greenville, South Carolina.
“It’s the kind of race that suits me very much,” he said. “You’ve got kind of a mixed bag of teams … It’s certainly a chaotic race, and I think that’s to my favor.”
Down the road, it’s not clear if Duggan will aim for a high finish at the Tour of Utah from August 7-12, but what is obvious is his good form this season.
Duggan has ridden in the world championships and stood on national championships podiums. He took second last year on stage 8 at the Critérium Dauphiné, and yet there’s a feeling that something bigger is on the horizon.
“Every race, I take it day by day and do my best and see what happens.”
He’s done well in the past at Utah – he took sixth overall there last year – but is also looking forward to the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado that comes just after.
“We’ll see how the form is come August,” he said. “I hope to be at a place where I can go for some things for myself out there.”
One of the Colorado stages winds through Nederland, just above Boulder, where Duggan and wife Loren just finished building their house.
“It’s going to be epic,” he said. “I think climbing at altitude is a strength of mine.”
Cycling is just part of the game with Duggan. He and a friend, Ian MacGregor, started the Just Go Harder Foundation, a non-profit that gives scholarships to kids to compete in cycling and skiing.
“It’s just kind of a little side project,” Duggan said. “If we can give a couple thousand dollars away to a kid who wouldn’t be able to participate in sports otherwise, that’s really good.”