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He’s still building back up after a horrendous racing crash almost two years ago, but Taylor Phinney was relishing the thoughts of lining out in Paris-Roubaix when he spoke on the eve of the race.
The BMC Racing Team rider talked shortly after coming off the stage at the team presentation, and said that he had been encouraged by his sensations in the Classics.
“They were better than I was expecting,” he told CyclingTips. “For sure in the Tour of Flanders you get to the end of 260 kilometres and it still feels a bit heavy on the left side, but I have been able to stay on top of any pain and any issues. I feel good on my bike. I have been pleasantly surprised.”
Phinney’s crash in May 2014 saw him left with a compound fracture to his tibia and a severed patellar tendon. The injuries raised questions over whether or not his career could continue, but with the support of doctors and physical therapists he got back to where he needed to be.
He won a stage of the USA Pro Challenge last August and then was part of the victorious BMC Racing squad in the team time trial world championships.
He was also part of the lineup which won the TTT in Tirreno-Adriatico.
Next up is Roubaix, a race he has long had a fascination with. “I am pretty relaxed, happy to be here,” he said. “I have been thinking about this for a while. I am just going to try to go out and have a good time tomorrow and see what we can do as a team.”
In an interview last year with CyclingTips he said he was unsure how his body would handle the jarring of the cobblestones, but he is now feeling secure about that.
“If anything, the cobbles make me feel better because then you get on the asphalt and you feel like you are just flying,” he said. “I haven’t experienced any issues with the bumpy roads.”
He’s clear on what he would like out of the race. “I would definitely like to finish. I would like to stay safe. If we can try to get somebody in the top ten that is our main goal. We are missing Greg [Van Avermaet] this week and last weekend, but we still have a really strong team and a motivated group of guys.”
Once the race is done he will turn his thoughts towards an important target in several month’s time.
“My main goal for the season has been the Olympics, the Olympic time trial,” he stated. “I will go back to the US after this. I’ll do the Tour of California, I would like to win a national championship. Then I’ll prepare, build up towards the Olympics.
“Beyond that, we will see, but probably end with the team time trial world championships in Qatar.”
That schedule doesn’t make mention of the Tour de France, a race he is yet to start. His debut will almost certainly have to wait a little longer.
Asked if he could be lining out in the race, he was frank in his answer. “I doubt it. It is a little bit early for the three week races still. That’s from what I have felt in week-long stage races, just from the way the left side recovers versus the right side.”
Still, although that has got to be frustrating for the 25 year old, he believes that the imbalances will eventually fade away.
“Now that I get to go home and I will continue some work in the gym, I think that I will be able to bump that strength up to where it needs to be.”
Before then, though, he has got a date with the cobblestone sectors of Paris-Roubaix.