Doebel-Hickok goes from breakaway to broken collarbone at Itzulia Women

 Krista Doebel-HIckok (EF Education-Tibco SVB)
Krista Doebel-HIckok (EF Education-Tibco SVB)

Krista Doebel-Hickok (EF Education-Tibco SVB) was on the attack on the second stage of Itzulia Women from Vitoria-Gasteiz to Amurrio, but the joy of being out the front came to an abrupt and painful end.

“To go [from hearing] my teammate saying ’Krista solo’ in the radio to me saying ‘Krista crash not okay’ in it, all within a matter of minutes, pretty well sums up the highs and lows of sport,” the 34-year-old tweeted from hospital in Spain.

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“Thanks to my team for standing beside me.”

EF Education-Tibco SVB said the American climber broke her collarbone after crashing halfway through Saturday’s lumpy 133km stage 2. It is a familiar recovery process for Doebel-Hickok who had to end her 2022 season early after a collarbone break in September on the second stage of the Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta.

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This time Doebel-Hickok was returning to racing at Itzulia Women after a break following Liège-Bastogne-Liège Femmes, where she recorded a DNF, and it had already been a tough return on stage 1 with the weather not exactly rolling out the welcome mat for the field.

“Fighting together through some of the worst conditions I’ve ever raced in. Like, it hailed. It. Hailed,” said Doebel-Hickok after stage 1 on Twitter.

Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) was among the riders caught up in a crash on the race's opening day but Doebel-Hickok – who last year came 12th overall at Itzulia and then went on to take fourth overall at Vuelta a Burgos Feminas – avoided Friday's falls. However, she did finish in 86th position, more than 15 minutes behind winner Demi Vollering (SD Worx).

“Not an easy welcome back to racing,” added Doebel-Hickok after that first stage. “The kind that asks you ‘do you really want to be here?’ I do. So I’ll keep climbing—even when my whole body is trembling and I can shift with only 2 fingers. Even when it seems like the climb never ends, I’ll keep climbing.”

The effort to get away on stage 2 made Doebel-Hickok's determination clear, but the crash means those climbs will now have to wait for a bit longer.