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Axel Merckx called Taylor Phinney's U23 Paris-Roubaix win the highlight of the team's 2009 season.
Young American finding answers to road v. track, U23 v. pro questions
Taylor Phinney (Trek-Livestong) left the Tour of Qatar thinking about his future career as a professional road rider after taking two top tens in sprint finishes and successfully mixing it with the likes of Tom Boonen and Tyler Farrar.
The 19-year-old Phinney was seventh on stage three and eighth on stage four.
Phinney headed home to Colorado after the Tour of Qatar to begin his training for the world track championships in Copenhagen, Denmark in March.
However he will soon have to decide his future in cycling and turning professional in 2011 looks the most likely option after his performance in Qatar.
"Now I'm more clear on the direction I'm going in my career and what I want to be doing in a couple of years, which is the road," he said to Cyclingnews.
"I'm not sure if I'm going to go pro or stay under 23 but based on racing here with the pros and how well I've done and well I feel, it's becoming more and more of a logical decision to go pro."
"I always knew that I had the sprinting ability of my dad, so it's really good to be able to get in the mix with those guys. I was happy to come out this race with some kind of result. We got two top tens and so it's pretty cool for me to be up there. It's as close to a video game as you could get, just being up there with Boonen, Farrar and the other guys fighting for position is cool."
"I think learnt a lot of where I need to be in the pack and that I can get up to the front of the pack through the middle like Boonen does. I saw he snakes all the way through and so I just got on the drops and tried to do the same thing. It worked so far."
The Trek-Livestrong is a natural feeder team to Lance Armstrong's Radioshack ProTour team. Phinney is not obliged to join Radioshack if he gets a better offer from another team but it seems likely he would stay loyal to Armstrong.
"I signed a two-year deal with Trek-Livestrong and next year Radioshack has first option. If I get other offers from teams but if Radioshack match it, I'll go with them," he said.
Whatever happens, whether Phinney turns professional or stays an Under 23 rider, he will be back in Qatar in 2011.
"This is definitely my kind of race, with the sprints and the echelons. It's something I'll look forward to riding every year," he said.