American Taylor Phinney narrowly missed a medal on Saturday in London and is more motivated now to deliver in the men’s time trial on Wednesday.
“I got fourth place in the road race and was happy to be up there. But it was one of the more difficult places to get at the Olympic Games, and leaving the race with nothing after being so close to a medal,” Phinney said Tuesday. “So I know my form is good and I have really been working specifically for this. I know that if I have a really good ride I can be up there and I am hungry from the road race. That’s extra motivation.”
Phinney and the other 36 starters in the men’s 44km time trial previewed the historic course on Tuesday. The route includes Portsmouth Road, one of Britain’s most popular cycling routes and one that has featured TT racing for nearly 100 years. The route begins and ends at the Hampton Court Palace on the River Thames, 13 miles southwest of the Olympic Village.
The course suits Phinney, who won the opening prologue at the Giro d’Italia in May and held the leader’s jersey for three days. The Boulder, Colorado-based specialist is a former U.S. professional champion and U23 world champion against the clock.
“I like the course, it’s a good course for me, relatively flat, rolling,” said Phinney. “You know it is a little bit tricky finding your way, finding the right way through some of the roads. They are a little bit bumpy, but we are used to that. I think it is going to be really cool, the last couple of kilometers coming through Bushy Park. There will be a ton of people going round that pond and finishing up. It is going to be really, really special. I think it’s a great course.”
Phinney said the roadside crowds on Saturday were the biggest he’s seen — bigger than Paris-Roubaix even — and that he hopes to see the same on Wednesday.
“I always like to stop and say ‘hi’ but the crowds in general, based on Saturday, have been really incredible. The best crowd experience I have ever come across in a race, like deafening for 250km on Saturday, which was quite special,” he said. “I am hoping it is similarly loud for tomorrow. That makes our job more enjoyable when you have the energy and passion from the fans to feed off of and push ourselves faster.”
If Phinney were to medal, he would join his mother, Connie Carpenter, who owns gold from the 1984 Games in Los Angeles. At 22, he is in his second Games, and pointed to a number of more experienced riders as top favorites, including Tour champ Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome (Great Britain), Tony Martin (Germany) and Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland).
“You know, [they are] older than me and more experienced,” he said. “They’ve proved themselves in the past to be very, very good, obviously. But I am up-and-coming.”
Phinney is coming up on his first shot at proving himself in a race for an Olympic time trial medal. He will start fourth from the end on Wednesday, following Spanish champion Luis León Sánchez at 3:04:30 local time.