Neben faces more hand surgery
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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Neben faces more hand surgery

by Ben Atkins at 6:55 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews, World Championships
One could argue that the curse of the rainbow jersey struck the USA’s Amber Neben during 2009; only not while she was actually wearing it. As the World time trial champion, the Nürnberger Versicherung rider just wore the bands against the clock, where she has taken several victories and numerous podiums. It’s only where she’s worn a standard team jersey that she’s had problems.

A crash on stage 5 of July’s Giro d’Italia Femminile (Giro Donne) saw her badly gash the index finger of her right hand. She was forced to withdraw from the race, which cost her a second consecutive podium in the event.

The injury required surgery – including a skin graft – and kept her out of competition for several weeks. Second place in the Memorial Davide Fardelli time trial at the beginning of September indicated that Neben was well on course to defend of her World title in Mendrisio just three weeks later.

Unfortunately for Neben it was not to be and she finished just sixth almost a minute and a half behind compatriot Kristin Armstrong. Despite her disappointment she went into Saturday’s road race confident of a good result on the challenging Mendrisio circuit.

In the mid-part of lap 4, a small crash once again put an end to Neben’s race, as she explained to Velonation: “After Brändli attacked on the first downhill on the 4th or 5th lap, there was a small group [of around eight] just up the road; I was in the next bunch.

“After the left off the small road onto the big road, we went fast through town,” she continued. “Then, from what I remember, Emma Johansson [of Sweden] jumped just before that left – that we didn’t do on the official training day – into a switchback right back under the road. Kristin Armstrong and I followed Emma; the left was ok, but in the right Emma and Kristin slid out. I stayed up, but my escape route to get by them had metal barriers in the way. I slammed into one of them.”

Despite not actually hitting the deck, the impact with the barrier broke a bone in her left hand, forcing her to pull out of the race. After the strength shown by the US team in the race it’s not difficult to speculate that, had Neben been able to continue, the end result may have been very different.

“[It’s the] different hand than Giro crash,” she confirmed. “[My] 2nd metacarpal is in 3 pieces; the middle piece is completely displaced. 'Impressive’ was one remark. Surgery tomorrow.” The procedure is expected to last 90 minutes.

As well as diagnosing the hand injury, an MRI scan on her left shoulder has revealed the root of a pain she’s had since the summer: “[I] also found out that the shoulder [the left one] I injured at the Giro is broken too.”

With the 2009 season for women now over, Neben will now focus on recovery in time for 2010.

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