Duffy out of mountain bike race
Flora Duffy has withdrawn from today’s Commonwealth Games mountain bike race after deeming the course too risky before she races in the ITU World Triathlon Bermuda.
The women’s triathlon gold medal-winner made the difficult decision after taking two days to familiarise herself with the course at Nerang State Forest.
She described the trail as “very raw, rocky, steep and difficult” and felt she could not justify putting herself in jeopardy at this crucial stage of her career.
The 30-year-old will be the overwhelming favourite when she races at home on April 28, as she bids to become the first woman to win three successive ITU titles.
“With growing expectation for the season ahead, especially the debut WTS Bermuda in two weeks, I am finding it increasingly difficult to justify the risk, and when hesitating on a mountain bike it typically leads to disaster,” Duffy said.
“During my previous cross country race in Stellenbosch, [South Africa], I did knock my left knee which resulted in routine changes, a reality that came back to haunt me more than I anticipated.
“This course, along with the timing, has become a bridge too far for me.
“In consultation with my team, this is the right way. I am really sorry and feel terrible for doing this. All my energy and focus will now go towards executing a good race in Bermuda on April 28.”
The mountain bike has been a “great stimulus” for Duffy and a positive distraction from the pressure of being the triathlon world No 1, according to her coach and husband Dan Hugo.
Duffy has flirted with the event during the past 12 months, competing in the South African Mountain Bike Series at Grabouw and the Sea Otter Cross Country in Monterey, California.
“I love riding my mountain bike, and do so twice weekly as part of my routine,” Duffy added. “I’ve enjoyed racing it both in cross-country events and during Xterra’s.
“There is a lot of mountain biking where I feel comfortable pushing hard on, where I can manage the risk. Unfortunately a small portion of this Commonwealth Games track is very raw, rocky, steep and difficult for me to execute, especially once fatigued during lap five and six.
“I am very thankful to Peter Dunne, the Bermuda Bicycle Association president, who has supported my desire to represent Bermuda in the mountain bike race at the Commonwealth Games. So too for many who shared the excitement of doing something new.”
Greg Welch, the Australian triathlon legend, who commentated on Duffy’s gold medal-win, expressed concerns about the Bermudian competing in the mountain bike in an interview with The Royal Gazette before the Games.
“The thing is her bread and butter is triathlon,” Welch said. “If she goes out there trying to compete in two sports and breaks her wrist … That’s the only factor she has to weigh up.
“If you’re an Olympic gold medal-winner you can be on that speakers’ circuit, that’s 20 grand a talk. You can ride this gravy train for the rest of your life.”
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