American Taylor Phinney rode to a fifth place finish in the elite men's individual time trial the UCI road world championships on Wednesday, which was close to the expectations of his time trial coach Bobby Julich, but could a dropped water bottle have hampered his eventual result? Julich thought so.
"He dropped his water bottle at kilometer 32. He doesn't ride with a radio and if he had, I would have told him to take a sip every 10km. When he finally went to take a drink 32km in, it just slipped out of his hand and it was past the feed zone. We can't feed from the car, so it was unfortunate."
Phinney finished 2:08 behind winner Tony Martin (Germany), 1:22 behind Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain), 1:20 down on bronze medalist Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) and 42 seconds behind Vasil Kiryienka (Belarus) after coming fifth at all of the time checks over the 57.9km event.
Still, Julich felt that dehydration prevented him from picking up the pace and possibly moving up one spot ahead.
"Up until that point he was really on it, but anyone who knows about hydration - you're losing 7-10% of your power [when dehydrated]. I was really nervous about those last 10k and it came true.
"He had the power, he had the morale, he had the form, but when you don't drink for an hour in these conditions ... it just cut his legs out from under him.
"I'm super proud of him. you can never count on something like that happening. I just wish that if he was going to be fifth, that he would have had gotten it all out and had a perfect ride. Technically he did have a perfect ride, but you saw in those last 10km ... you could see how much the dehydration affected him. He needs to be proud of his effort.
Phinney based the second half of a somewhat disappointing season on the Worlds time trial, and Julich said that just the work he had put into focusing on this race will pay off in the future.
"I think he can take a lot of positives out of this. The way that he trained, the way that he dedicated himself and the sacrifices he made, he really earned my respect throughout the whole process. I'm just sorry that something as small as losing a water bottle can really ruin your day.
"This is a learning experience, his training for this was a learning experience. These guys [Wiggins, Cancellara and Martin] have done dozens of time trials at this length, and Taylor does it once or twice a year. It's something we'll put in the base plan for next year, that we find the time trials, and have him hit those time trials and train those time trials and - who knows - maybe just use a normal bottle instead of an aero bottle, because it's a huge difference at the end of the race [to stay hydrated]."