Taylor Phinney has given his biggest hint yet that he may skip a track programme and concentrate entirely on the road in 2011. The American prodigy signed for BMC on a multiple-year contract in September this year and had a memorable season, winning 14 races including the US national time trial championship and world U23 time trial, while also retaining his crown in the U23 Paris-Paris Roubaix.
The 20-year-old, who is now back in the US, told Cyclingnews that the burden of being a first-year pro with burgeoning Classics ambitions could mean that he may drop his track commitments for 2011 and even 2012 – meaning no defence of his world pursuit crown next year.
“With regards to track that’s still up for grabs. I know that BMC really want to make a solid track bike, but as of right now I’m not 100 per cent what I’ll do. As a first year pro I want to give everything I can to the team, get into the groove of things and the track season is at an unfortunate time when you’re trying to peak for the Classics in March and April but we’ll see,” he told Cyclingnews.
“There’s definitely a possibility of not riding the track next year. If I try to decide to jump into the road scene and work 100 per cent on that then there’s a chance that I wouldn’t go to the Worlds or do any track this year. I’m happy with my record on the track but just timing wise it could be difficult if I’m trying to peak for something like Flanders or Roubaix. I’ll weigh up my options but it’s still a couple more months off.”
With the individual pursuit, an event Phinney has dominated for the last two years, off the Olympic programme for the London Games, there’s also the possibility that he may focus on the road in 2012 too.
“With the pursuit out, that really changes my level of motivation for the track. Also winning the U23 world time trial gave me a little more hope with potentially qualifying for the 2012 London Olympic team just for the time trial and maybe even the road race. I’m a big person and I like flat roads,” he said.
A final decision will be made in the first two months of 2011 and while Phinney will still train on the track in December in order to improve his speedwork, he already has his eyes set on the Spring Classics – the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.
With BMC stacked with Classics specialists, Phinney knows that even making selection will need effort on his part and that his main goal is to gain experience.
“U23 Paris Paris-Roubaix is around 180km and the pros race 260 so that’s a long time to be on your bike racing over cobbles. I’ve got some great team managers on BMC who will be able to tell me what I’m capable of doing. I can judge where I’m at compared to who I’m racing again but I have to make the selection for those races first, we’ve got such a strong squad for those races. I would love to help out and if I feel strong and I’m up to it I’ll try and be up there but for this year it’s more probable I’ll be a helper or in a free role which is more than I can ask for.”
Phinney will kick off his season with the Tours of Qatar and Oman before a possible date with Paris-Nice, where he could be a key contender for the prologue and individual time trial.
“Right now I’m just trying not to injure myself, I’m training, working hard, learning but taking things slow. I’ve got a few years with the team and I’m really excited to be racing against the best bike racers in the world at the biggest events. It’s all going to be painful, I’m sure of that, and a lot of people will be pointing to me to get some pretty big results next year. I’m just going to do everything I can and I’ll take advantage of my time."