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John Murphy (OUCH pb Maxxis) already enjoying his time in the stars and stripes jersey.
Former criterium champion returns home after European stint
After two years of racing for BMC, which included almost a full European campaign of the Spring Classics and a start in the Giro d' Italia, John Murphy has returned to competing for an American based squad.
Murphy made a two-year commitment to the Kenda/ 5-Hour Energy squad and is hoping to return to his winning ways before racing full-time in Europe. He has decamped from Europe to his new home base of Asheville, North Carolina. Previously Athens, Georgia was home, but the mountains, better training conditions and being closer to his family were the deciding reasons for his move.
With the domestic racing season only weeks away is Murphy going to miss the high level of competition he faced as a member of a WorldTour team?
"I am going to miss racing in Europe, but not living there," said Murphy. "I'm really excited to live in the U.S. again. I'll have a home base that I can actually spend some time at and see my friends and family more than once or twice a year."
Murphy's European home base was Ghent, Belgium – home to several one-day classic stars – which was appropriate for a rider pegged for that style of racing.
Describing his transition to a domestic team the 2009 U.S. national criterium champion understood why his contract wasn't extended.
"BMC is one of the best teams in the world – no question. I wanted to continue to grow with the team. But the issue was that the team was continuing to grow faster than I was."
With the addition of Thor Hushovd and Philippe Gilbert, it is evident that BMC wants to add a one-day classic to the team's list of victories.
"I understand how it ended (his contract not being renewed for 2012) and they need riders who can win Classics, and maybe I'm not quite there yet."
"But I wanted to go to a team that allowed me to get some results. I haven't won a race in two years and that bothers me," continued Murphy.
That team is the Kenda/5-Hour Energy and Murphy is looking to post some victories starting at the San Dimas stage race and the Redlands Classic.
"I need to help Kenda/5-Hour become the bigger team that they deserve to be and win some races to show that, while I did spend two years racing in Europe, I wasn't floundering. I was getting stronger. I want to remind the cycling world that I'm not done."
One of the biggest races on the American calendar is the Amgen Tour of California and the squad knows that it will be an uphill battle for selection. Posting some wins during the early season could show that Kenda/5-Hour Energy deserves a spot.
As a former national criterium champion, Murphy can be relied upon in a field sprint, but he feels he's progressed as a professional cyclist.
"I hope to win some big races whether it's in a time trial, sprint, one-day races – I want to show that I can be a factor in all the races."
While the quality of racing has improved in the U.S. would Murphy return to Europe?
"Absolutely, the door is not shut. But for me personally I needed to return to a domestic calendar."
"There's a few elements I need to work on like win some bigger races such as a stage of the Amgen Tour of California, Philadelphia (TD Bank International Cycling Championships), or the Tour of Battenkill. Even one of the NRC events," said Murphy. "I'd like to win a general classification also. I don't think that's beyond the realm of possibility."
"If the opportunity arises maybe Kenda/5-Hour Energy goes to Europe. Maybe we build this team and take it to Europe or maybe I return to a ProTour team and take another swing. Only time will tell."