PONFERRADA, Spain (VN) – Taylor Phinney‘s grand tour debut ended Friday on the steep, punishing roads of western Spain in the 13th stage of the Vuelta a España.
The BMC rider stepped out of the pedals satisfied with making it as far as he did in a brutally difficult Vuelta.
“Initially, the goal was to come here and do the first 10 stages and be able to go into the time trial with relatively good legs and get a result,” Phinney told BMC press officer Sean Weide. “We completed that and I was really satisfied with the way the first 10 days went. Going into the first rest day I was thinking I could make it another week. But I really suffered the past couple of days and today was just kind of a breaking point, so to speak.”
Phinney won’t reach Madrid for the Vuelta finale on September 11, but making it as far as he did was an important milestone for the young rider.
This year’s Vuelta course has been punishing and Phinney fought through a brutal first half of the race to ride to fifth in the 47km Salamanca time trial in stage 10.
Phinney said just reaching Salamanca was victory enough.
“My highlight would probably be making it through the first week. I really suffered on stages 4, 5 and 6. But I was able to push through on those stages and make it to my initial goal, which was the time trial on stage 10,” he said. “So the fact I was able to prove to myself that I could push through and dig deep in those early stages would probably be the highlight for me.”
Phinney will now reload for a run at the world championship time trial race, set for September 22 in Copenhagen.
Following his promising result in Salamanca, where he finished within six seconds of world TT champion Fabian Cancellara, Phinney is quietly optimistic he could be able to battle for a podium spot.
“I gave it everything I could, but now I have to look forward to getting to the world championships and not draining myself too much for that,” he continued. I’m confident after my fifth place in the time trial a couple days ago. That’s a good confidence booster going forward. Now I have time to rest and recover and build up to be even better than I was before this race.”
With Phinney’s departure and Tyler Farrar‘s early exit following his high-speed crash in stage 7, two of the four U.S. starters remain in the race.