Team News: Bauer  completes a long road back from injury

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It was nearly a year ago that Jack Bauer first clipped back into the pedals after surgery and rehab to repair a broken femur, an injury sustained at the 2015 Tour de France.

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Team News: Bauer  completes a long road back from injury

It was nearly a year ago that Jack Bauer first clipped back into the pedals after surgery and rehab to repair a broken femur, an injury sustained at the 2015 Tour de France.

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“It was September 31, 2015. I stepped on the bike on a nasty, raining wet day. I had one small leg, one good leg. I couldn’t really pedal to save myself. And also had a lot a fear about going into roundabouts, sliding out, crashing again,” Bauer said on Thursday. “I’m really pleased to be able to compete at this level again, and to be in good physical shape. To be able to win, it’s icing on the cake.”

New Zealander Bauer won the Tour of Britain’s fifth stage into Bath on Thursday. The win marks the first European road stage victory of Bauer’s career and also signals the end of a long road back to top form.

“Jack has done a remarkable job of coming back from a really nasty injury,” Slipstream Sports CEO Jonathan Vaughters said. “His dedication is inspiring.”

The victory was a master class from Bauer, as it took the acumen to survive a breakaway that began attacking itself with six kilometers to go and the patience to wait to open up a sprint as the peloton bore down.

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“At about seven kilometers to go, Moinard (BMC Racing), was the first person to lay his card and attack on the climb. I let him go, tried to hold him at a bridgeable gap, and then put the other two to work,” explained Bauer. “From three kilometers out, I was completely focused on the stage win. Wasn’t even considering how close the bunch was behind. I took one look around. I knew they were coming fast. I thought, ‘Ok, if the bunch comes no worries.’ But I wasn’t going to tow the other three to the line.”

With less than a kilometer to go, it appeared the break would be caught. Bauer, however, remained cool as the sprinters from the peloton began to close in. He took a leadout from breakaway companion Javier Moreno (Movistar) before kicking toward the line. Bauer said he never looked around inside the final kilometer to see where the peloton was.

“No, no, no,” he said. “It’s just watch the wheel in front, make sure you’re being led out, not leading out.”

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In the end, Bauer bested Moinard and Erick Rowsell (Madison Genesis). Moreno was gobbled up by the peloton, as Caleb Ewan (Orica-BikeExchange) won the field sprint.

“The BMC rider was strong. He set off into the wind alone a couple of times. It was his undoing in the end,” said Bauer. “I just had a cool head. I didn’t plan on being in the break today… but when it came to crunch time I was in position. The group was motivated. So I thought why not have a crack?”

The return to the top step is perhaps never sweeter than after injury — for many people. “Sarah, my fiancé, and my family kept supporting me and believing in me,” Bauer said. “It’s nice for them to see I’ve still got it.”

The Tour of Britain continues on Friday, with a stage from Sidmouth to Haytor. Dylan van Baarle is the best placed overall contender for Cannondale-Drapac in seventh place.

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