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Phinney’s plans murky ahead of Roubaix

  • By Gregor Brown
  • Published Mar. 10, 2016
  • Updated Apr. 8, 2016 at 12:57 PM EDT
Taylor Phinney kept his left leg loose during some down time in Tirreno's stage 2. It is the leg he badly injured in 2014, and is not yet at 100 percent. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

POMARANCE, Italy (VN) — American Taylor Phinney plans on returning to next month’s Paris-Roubaix for the first time in two years, after his injury in 2014. Out of all the classics, the Hell of the North is a priority, but he must carefully mind his recovery, and the former U.S. TT champ admits, “I’m not really sure.”

Phinney stepped off the red and black BMC team bus Thursday morning to sunny Tuscan skies at the Tirreno-Adriatico stage race. The event marks his first WorldTour race since breaking his left leg in the U.S. championships, May 26, 2014. It was a big step for him to race Tirreno-Adriatico since, at one point, he did not even know if he would return to competition.

He is progressing well, though. He returned in late summer 2015, won a stage of the USA Pro Challenge, helped BMC win the time trial world championship title and completed 261.4 kilometers in the worlds road race. His next step is to return to the race he won twice as an under-23 cyclist.

“Game plan for the classics? At least Roubaix, for sure,” Phinney told VeloNews. “For sure, I’d like to do that, but I had some troubles last week in France in Haut Var, and it took a solid week of extensive therapy to come back from that, which put a bit of stint in the confidence going into these races, but I knew it was going to be a struggle anyway. Yes, if all goes well, I should do Roubaix. But I’m not really sure. I’m not really sure about anything.”

BMC Racing is working extensively toward Phinney’s full recovery. The goal would be to get the 25-year-old back into some of the cobbled classics this spring and perhaps racing for the pink jersey in the opening day of the Giro d’Italia. Nothing is certain, though.

The American team will only confirm its eight-man Roubaix roster one week before, after the dust settles from the Tour of Flanders. Phinney could slot in with Greg Van Avermaet, Daniel Oss, Marcus Burghardt, and Jempy Drucker. Phinney raced three editions so far, finishing as high as 15th in his first outing in 2012.

However, to be ready for the race in one month, Phinney has work to do. He needs “a lot of therapy each day” simply to make sure his knee stays healthy.

“I’m definitely stronger physically [than before], but I suffer on my left side when I get into the last hour of a really difficult European race. I need to strengthen myself leg little more, but I’m capable of racing,” Phinney added.

“I’ve done the worlds, that was six hours, but it was a bit of a struggle to get the left leg over. It was a good race and a good showing, but my left side just fatigues more than the right side. That’s the only real test that I’ve had. I’m building to the classics, but I need to keep expectations at a reasonable level.”

Those expectations may have increased after Phinney helped BMC Racing power to the team time trial victory in the opening day of Tirreno-Adriatico on Wednesday. Thanks to his effort, Oss wore the blue leader’s jersey Thursday and Tejay van Garderen was well-positioned for a run at the overall title.

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Gregor Brown

Gregor Brown

Bikes kept Gregor Brown out of trouble growing up in Oklahoma — BMX, freestyle and then watching Greg LeMond's Tour de France wins on CBS television's weekend highlights shows. The drama of the 1998 Tour, however, truly drew him into the fold. With a growing curiosity in European races and lifestyle, he followed his heart and established camp on Lake Como's shores in 2004. Brown has been following the Giro, the Tour and every major race in Europe since 2006. He will tell you it is about the "race within the race" – punching out the news and running to finish – but he loves a proper dinner, un piatto tipico ed un vino della zona.

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