Sam Long is hoping to be close to 100% for the IRONMAN World Championship in St George on Saturday as he recovers from a collision with a car.
The crash happened 10 days before the big showdown in Utah, while he was out on a training ride in Tucson, Arizona.
At the time he said on his Facebook page: “It’s a reminder that there is no perfect training plan and that things happen. My team and I have modified the plan to make sure the body will be ready.”
But his Strava and social media updates in recent days have underlined the extent of the injury, and the impact it had on him.
‘Pummeled by a car’
The PTO World #5, who has won both his races this season, said: “It’s been a blur after getting pummeled by a car last week. After feeling and seeing peak fitness in my metrics – after months of work, Canceling Christmas and so much focus – I nearly lost it all. I hope to be at 100 percent by Saturday.”
And after arriving in Utah and logging an 83km training ride he added on Strava: “I finally feel like my hip will be better and that I can actually get to the start line.”
Long is just one of a number of big names racing who have had their build-ups severely interrupted.
That list is topped by the two clear favourites for the men’s race, Norwegian duo Kristian Blummenfelt and Gustav Iden, who have both had to shake off bad colds.
The race is already missing defending champion Jan Frodeno and dual winner Patrick Lange through injury while Javier Gomez and Joe Skipper have both been ruled out by COVID.
Strength in numbers
And Long told fellow contender Lionel Sanders‘ YouTube channel that the dynamics of the bike section on Saturday can be pivotal to the result.
He said: “We’ve often seen at Kona that the winners come from the swim group lead pack most years and they stay ahead.
“We particularly saw that in 2019. Both Jan and T.O [Timothy O’Donnell] had the pace honest and hard up front and the main group of cyclists didn’t bridge up enough time to be competitive.
“Obviously I have to have allies and we have to work together.
“I don’t think it’s a surprise that Lionel and I are probably the two strongest guys on the bike in that group, but I really hope it’s not just me and Lionel who are going to have to take that charge and responsibility.”
Wurf the ‘X Factor’
One of the men who could have a huge impact in that is Cameron Wurf, who confirmed to us this week that he will be on the start line.
The Australian helped the INEOS Grenadiers to a famous win at Paris-Roubaix only last month, one of professional cycling’s most iconic and attritional events.
He finished fifth at Kona in 2019 and has twice broken the bike course record there.
He flew in this week, explaining: “I didn’t really decide until Sunday night. I’ve had a busy start to the year and Roubaix took some recovery time, that’s a hard race, also the fact I hadn’t swam or run much obviously. In the end, I love competing.”