CAMROSE, Alberta (VN) — Jason McCartney (Bissell) received an early birthday surprise this week in Edmonton. A day before the veteran professional rider turned 40 on Tuesday, an incident unlike anything in his career left him feeling the years, at least temporarily.
Out for a training ride on Monday morning before the Tour of Alberta, McCartney’s Bissell teammates were slow-rolling on a city bike path, coexisting with people out on a sunny Labour Day. From the other direction, a rollerblader skated toward the team and it was apparent something was up.
“I was riding on the front and I saw this guy coming up and he was a little angry,” said Kirk Carlsen, the 26-year-old who joined the team earlier this year. “All of a sudden, we looked back and Jason was on the ground.”
McCartney didn’t have a chance.
“I didn’t see him because I was at the back,” he said. “And then he just put his shoulder into me a hockey-checked me. It totally took me off my bike and broke my helmet.”
At first, McCartney didn’t know what had happened and took the courteous route.
“I had no idea that he did it on purpose,” he said before Wednesday’s first stage. “So I get up, walk over, and make sure he’s OK, pick up his sunglasses, hand him his sunglasses, shake his hand.
“And then I realized he did it on purpose, so then it was, like, ‘Screw that guy.’”
The run-in left McCartney with some nagging soreness, mostly in his neck, but he was able to start Tuesday night’s prologue. He finished 48th of 117 riders, 52 seconds back of winner Peter Sagan (Cannondale).
It also left him wondering, because he said it was a first for him.
“It was pretty rude,” he said. “I mean, you’re on a bike path where there are families and you make room and just be nice to other people. So I didn’t understand that.”
Teammate Andrew Dalheim, 25, said he did, sort of.
“My theory is that he was getting ready for [Edmonton] Oilers tryouts or something,” said Dalheim.