Katie zaferes not holding back after crash, concussion in wts abu dhabi k gas constant

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The Corralitos resident wasn’t just in contention during the WTS Bermuda event on April 28, she held down second place until she was nipped at the finish line by Great Britain’s Vicky Holland. It was an impressive return to racing considering Zaferes spent a night in the hospital with signs of a concussion six weeks earlier, when her bike skidded out from under her as she was leading the wet WTS Abu Dhabi.

“I was definitely sure I was capable of a podium. It was disappointing,” she said in a Skype interview with the Sentinel. “I wanted to be closer to Flora (Duffy, the race winner). I wish I had raced with her rather than a minute behind her. I know I have more in me.”

Zaferes, who finished third in the WTS standings last year behind Duffy and Australia’s Ashleigh Gentle, got off to a rough start in Bermuda. She emerged from the water an uncharacteristic 12th — perhaps subconsciously distracted by feeling her backup wedding ring slip into the Bermuda Triangle — and had to play catchup. The task was made even more difficult considering Duffy, who also crashed out of Abu Dhabi, was racing in her home country and propelled on by thousands of adoring fans.

Zaferes nevertheless charged to the lead on the bike, but few of her fellow competitors were interested in chasing down Duffy, whom they might have already written off as the winner. Zaferes wasn’t willing to accept that as fact until Duffy crossed the finish. She said she tried to push the pace as hard as she could.

“It might not have been tactically the best move, but I never gave up on trying to get to Flora,” she said. “If I’m going to ride hard, I’m going to ride at least hard enough that their legs were going to hurt when they got to the run. I didn’t want to make it easy for anyone in any part of the pack.”

Foolish or not, the tactic worked. Once on the run, the only person who kept up with Zaferes was Holland. The British racer, who later said the Bermuda race “will be one of the highlights of my career,” was all too happy to tuck in behind Zaferes and use her as a windbreak.

But what she was out there to do was win. That goal would have been a tall one for anyone with Duffy, who won six WTS events last year and also won the 2016 WTS title, racing on her home soil. Considering what Zaferes was coming back from, it seemed additionally improbable.

Besides, she said as bad as the crash in Abu Dhabi looked, it didn’t take long for her to recover — at least physically. She said she only lost about a week of training and was quickly back to riding her bike inside on a trainer and going for easy runs. Her biggest concern was that her goggles would irritate the stitches around her eye, but she said that issue disappeared with just a few adjustments.

“I think, especially because there were circumstances that aren’t typical for Abu Dhabi, I didn’t allow it to beat me down and be a reflection of my skill — because half the field crashed,” Zaferes said. “It wasn’t as mentally defeating as it could have been.”

Mentally, however, challenges still existed. When Zaferes returned to her training camp in Mallorca, Spain, and began riding her bike outside for regularly scheduled criterium training, she first had to follow the wheel of her husband and training partner, Tommy Zaferes, an Aptos native.

“The first one I did was not good, I was overwhelmed,” Zaferes said. “After that I made it a priority to go with Tommy and stay on his wheel an start more slowly going into the technical things. When I first started, it was like a workout, a hard effort rather than practice. When we went back the next day, I just followed Tommy’s wheel ton of times, just going back to basics. Each workout got better and better.”