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Taylor Phinney has avoided saying he is ‘back’ despite a hugely successful return to racing; a return that is set to continue at the Tour of Britain from next week.
The 25-year-old has earmarked the race on a program that could also include the UCI Road World Championships on home soil after being sidelined through injury for an excruciating 15 months.
Phinney has been heralded for his recent comeback from a well-documented high-speed crash at the 2014 US national road titles in which the towering 196cm American broke his left leg in two places and damaged his knee. In his first race back at the Tour of Utah this month the former national time trial champion finished third in the opening road stage. He then celebrated an individual win and stint in the leader’s jersey at the USA Pro Challenge last week in which he also assisted Aussie Rohan Dennis to overall victory.
However, a tentative Phinney has revealed, despite the results and loud applause, that his toil is not altogether in the past and physiotherapy, which became a full-time occupation through part of his lay-off, remains ongoing.
“I haven’t really looked back on anything because I feel like I’m still in it, still pretty heavily involved in the recovery process, which is maybe why I have difficulty talking about being quote, end quote, ‘back’,” he told Cyclingtips in a phone interview from Colorado.
“I don’t feel like I am 100% back. I still deal with so much stuff on my left side … if a time comes that I can race my bike and really not have to think about the therapy I’m getting every day then I think I’ll be back.”
Phinney had to manage pain in his left leg during Utah and Colorado and said he is still approaching races with a degree of caution and sensibility.
“I’m still at a point where, like, Utah, I was there just one day at a time,” he said. “I wanted to finish the race but I wanted to finish each stage first so I wasn’t thinking about the whole week really.
“Even beyond Utah I was like, okay, Colorado is the next so Colorado I had a similar approach, expecting myself definitely to perform well and finish the whole race, do my job well and have a bit more confidence about it, but beyond that there’s so many different things that can happen.
“Right now I’m scheduled to go to the Tour of Britain, which I’m pretty excited about,” he continued. “But I’ve got to just go one step at a time.
“I’ve been talking to the national team about worlds and that is an exciting prospect, something that would obviously mean a lot to me to be able to go there as they’re in Virginia … but, you know, the team is already trying to plan my early season next year and I’m like, just pump the brakes for a second,” he laughed. “Let me just get back on the horse and then we’ll see how she runs.”
The 2015 Tour of Britain starts next Sunday with a 177.7km road stage in Anglesey, off the north-west coast of Wales.