When you are the reigning US Professional Criterium Champion, deciding to race in Europe means that your days flying the Stars-and-Stripes jersey might be severely limited. But, when you have just turned 25 and are built for the Classics, you have to take the opportunities when they come your way.
Last fall while the BMC Racing Team was making big news with the signings of George Hincapie, Cadel Evans and Allesandro Ballan, John Murphy decided to leave Team OUCH and join several guys who have been around the block a few times.
Murphy cut his teeth racing for four years with the US domestic Health Net and Team OUCH squads, winning the overall at the 2008 Tour of Taiwan and the US Professional Criterium Championship in 2009. He came onto the squad as a good all arounder, but quickly developed into a very fast finisher. "On the road I have learned to wait until the finish and I have a pretty good kick for the finish. If you are fast at the finish you know it because you win races," said Murphy.
And while it is a double-edged sword, we might just see Murphy as Captain America. "I have a pretty open schedule after [Paris] Roubaix. I should have some time to do some crits in the US and wave the Stars-and-Stripes around a bit. But, it is not unfortunate that I am racing the big races in Europe and not wearing the jersey. To be able to race Paris-Roubaix and Tour of Flanders or at least have the possibility to race them, is way better than any crit I could ever do," said Murphy.
What is it going to take for Murphy to raise his game to the ProTour level? "Just more focus. More attention to training, my diet. All the 'one percents' are going to start adding up. Do you have it at the end of 220-250km of racing? That's what I am working on now. Just making sure I have everything ready to go."
Murphy raced the U23 version of Paris-Roubaix and recorded two top-20 finishes, but knows the experience will be different as a pro. "It is a whole new world. It is a whole new challenge. That is what is driving me and motivating me right now. I am going to these races that are the biggest in the world and I have to be ready for it. The biggest thing for me is to get there and to prove to everyone out there and to myself that I am a capable rider."
Living in Athens, Georgia, Murphy often makes the one hour drive north to train with teammate George Hincapie. "Once you get to know one of the captains of the team and you are comfortable with them it is awesome because you know that no matter what happens you have a guy on the team who's got your back and vice-versa. Having him that close is a pretty awesome situation," said Murphy.
"What makes him such a great teammate and a great friend is that he has been through it. Whatever you are feeling or going through chances are he's done it. He's lived it probably 10 times, 15 times more than you have. To have a guy like that who you can pick his brain, ask him questions and just be around him is a good feeling."
Branching out into the business world, Murphy has introduced JPMurph Cycling Blend coffee which he describes as an "intense blend of high altitude, gourmet Arabica beans with rich flavors of caramelized sugars and chocolaty undertones."
There is a steep learning curve to being successful in the Classics. It is clear that John Murphy has the skill set and the motivation to give it a go. With seasoned teammates like Hincapie and Ballan, he will be in good company which bodes well for the future of BMC Racing Team's talented young gun.