Parkite Putt battles shoulder injury
The local cyclist hopes to return for Tour of Alberta
August 8, 2017
The annual Tour of Utah wrapped up for the 13th year on Sunday in Salt Lake City, but one local participant in recent years was absent.
Since 2012, Park City native Tanner Putt, a member of the UnitedHealthCare Pro Cycling team, has competed in the event that's been dubbed America's Toughest Stage Race. However, an injury to his shoulder, which included a torn labrum, kept Putt from competing in this year's event, even though he's been in Park City rehabbing.
"It's frustrating, especially because Tour of Utah is my favorite race," Putt said. "Being in Utah and not being able to race it, it's pretty frustrating but I still have a few races left for the rest of the year that I'll hopefully be able to do."
The 2017 season started as any other for Putt, kicking things off with some training in Colombia during the winter months. His first race of the year came in Australia at the Herald Sun Tour. Then, he traveled and competed in races in Malaysia and Morocco before returning stateside for the Tour of California, in which his team won three stages.
But a bad crash in June led to his current injury that has held him out of competition since, including the Tour of Utah. In his absence, Putt's team was able to secure a second-place finish, just 1:39 behind the event's team winner, BMC Racing.
"I've just been watching from a distance," Putt said of keeping up with his team at the Tour of Utah.
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In actuality, though, it wasn't that far of a distance. Putt now resides in Boulder, Colorado, but as a former Parkite, he's been staying at his parents' house in Park City as his shoulder is nursed back to full strength through physical therapy.
Typically, the final stage of the Tour of Utah — Putt's favorite — is held in Park City. This year, however, the finale was moved to Salt Lake City due to scheduling conflicts on Main Street.
"That was always my favorite stage, the day that goes through Park City," Putt said. "I was really bummed because I always felt like that's where we would get the biggest crowds. It was the most fun because there's people lined all over the course.
"That was the stage it was known for. It always decided the overall race. The fact that they took that out was a little bit disappointing."
With the Tour of Utah now wrapped up, Putt continues to focus on getting back to 100 percent. He has his eyes on the Tour of Alberta, where he had one of his best performances of his 2016 season when he won Stage 2, in September.
The most frustrating part, Putt said, is not what most would think; it’s the fact that he's still able to ride. For most athletes, this would be an encouraging sign, but for Putt, it just gives him a taste of the sport he loves, but without the competition setting.
At first, his injury was painful. He said it felt like a broken collarbone and that any sort of motion would trigger the pain. Now, however, that pain has turned into more of an annoyance. Though he can ride, Putt, who's avoided surgery to this point, said participating in a race is an entirely different story.
"It's just this annoying dull pain that kind of limits me from doing things," Putt said. "I can go ride, but it's a big risk racing and crashing right now. If I crash, I could pop my whole arm out of my socket and dislocate it fully, so if I crash, then it's like a guaranteed surgery, which is a couple of months of recovery.
"It's just annoying right now because I'm healthy and able to ride. It's just the annoying injury. I have to wait for it to get better, because if I don't, it could take me out for part of next year, too."
Putt plans to continue his physical therapy, which include range of motion drills, upper body training and continuing his daily bike rides, to ensure he's good to go for the Tour of Alberta next month.
"I've had a few setbacks this year, but I'm more motivated than ever to get back to racing," Putt said.
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