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MailTribune.com
  • CYCLING

    Back on Track

    Jade Wilcoxson returns to racing after crash
  • A horrifying crash didn't keep local U.S. professional road race champion Jade Wilcoxson out of the game for long.
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  • A horrifying crash didn't keep local U.S. professional road race champion Jade Wilcoxson out of the game for long.
    The 35-year-old Talent resident is back on her bike about a month after suffering painful injuries.
    Wilcoxson, who races for Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies, took a hard tumble on the final corner of the last stage at the Nature Valley Grand Prix on June 16 in Minnesota.
    After she fractured the radial bone above her left wrist, Minnesota doctors installed a plate and several screws less than 24 hours later. Wilcoxson also suffered several cuts and bruises.
    The accident cost her a shot at competing in the prestigious eight-stage Giro Rosa in Italy with the USA Cycling National Team.
    Wilcoxson said she targeted the Bend Memorial Clinic Cascade Cycling Classic as the race she hoped to return to following the crash. Mission accomplished: she is in Bend today competing in the fourth of six stages.
    The race features Mara Abbott, who won the overall title at the Giro Rosa last week.
    "When I crashed I set this as the goal to come back and things worked out," Wilcoxson said. "I was able to meet that goal and start the race. We'll see how it goes. ... I try not to put too much pressure on myself, so I'm taking it day to day."
    In Minnesota, Wilcoxson held the Nature Valley yellow jersey on stage 2 and maintained it into the last corner on the final day. She swung wide and slammed into a course barrier, knocking her out of contention for the title and leaving her bloodied.
    Shelley Olds — the 2010 overall winner at Nature Valley — took the overall victory, while Wilcoxson secured second. Despite her injuries, she managed to take to the podium before heading to a hospital.
    "It was a scary crash but it is a part of our careers," Wilcoxson said. "It's a part of racing. The chances are you are going to have a bad crash eventually, and my number was up that day."
    The Nature Valley Grand Prix is a five-day, six-stage competition that started with time trials in St. Paul on June 12 and included additional stops in Cannon Falls, Minneapolis Menomonie, Wis., and Stillwater for the grueling finale. Female racers made 13 laps around a 2.2-kilometer course in the Stillwater stage, which includes Chilkoot Hill and its 18-percent average grade.
    Wilcoxson entered the final stage with a one-second lead in the overall standings.
    Wilcoxson set the stage last month in Chattanooga, Tenn., after capturing her first United States championship.
    She said she has experienced some residual weakness since the accident, but is healing quickly.
    "It wasn't as painful as it looked," she said of the crash. "It was definitely painful though. I think I looked worse than I felt."
    Wilcoxson said she kept a good attitude despite the setback. Her long-term focus is now on the world championships in Florence, Italy, at the end of the season.
    She'll still have to earn a spot on the world team.
    Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email djones@mailtribune.com
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