GENT, Belgium (VN) — Taylor Phinney trained to race Paris-Roubaix all winter, arrived to the classics season in good form, and has already considered what he would do with the winner’s cobble trophy.
“I’d get a Rolls-Royce,” Phinney said last week in Kortrijk, Belgium. “Take the [hood] ornament thing off the front and put the cobble there!”
Journalists prodded Phinney into a response after he heard about Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing). The three-time Roubaix winner put his trophies in his sauna room and one on each window ledge at his home in Bern, Switzerland. His wife designed the room, which by chance only has three windows.
Based on his results, Phinney should consider such a possibility. He won two editions of the under-23 Paris-Roubaix in 2009 and 2010, and gained experience racing the last two years in the pro ranks.
“I’m at another level than I was last year and the year before,” he said.
He proved this in the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) last week. He escaped for more than 176 kilometers, rode some of the key sections, like the Paterberg climb, at the front, and helped teammate Marcus Burghardt before easing up.
“I can be up there in both races but Paris-Roubaix is more suited to my current build,” Phinney said.
“In Paris-Roubaix, it feels a bit easier to be in the front when you need to be there. Maybe that’s just me because I’m not thinking about a climb in Flanders but a flat cobbled section, for me it’s easier to fight before a flat cobbled selection than to go toward the Kwaremont or Paterberg. In Paris-Roubaix, it’s about being in the front and following the big guys.”
Phinney debuted with a 15th place in 2012. At last year’s race, Phinney said he lacked the power to follow the “big guys” when the selection was made. He lost ground when Stijn Vandenbergh blew apart the race on Mons-en-Pévèle cobbled sector.
Given his experience and rides this year — he won the Dubai Tour and was seventh in Omloop het Nieuwsblad before his Flanders performance — Phinney said he wants to play his cards for a Roubaix win.
“I’m not at the level of [Tom] Boonen and Cancellara, who ideally can ride away from the other top riders. I’m better [than I was], for sure, in that I have the legs to make the selection when it happens. And from then on out, it’s about playing your cards right,” Phinney said.
“I have experience at that, like in Nieuwsblad, that was the first time that I was up there in the top 20 to play for the win. That’s a huge difference than when I was in my first Paris-Roubaix, where I was just surviving, where people were coming back and I just sprinted for 15th. That’s different than being at the front and playing for the win.”
And if he does win, he just has to find a Rolls-Royce to display his trophy.