Phinney, who is currently on the hunt for a medal at the Rio Olympic Games, last rode a Grand Tour in 2013, when he raced the Giro d’Italia. A serious injury in 2014 stalled his career and he spent most of that year, and 2015, recovering from a broken leg.
With Rio acting as the centrepiece to his 2016 season Phinney has ambitions of a medal in the time trial. He was fourth in both the time trial and road race in London four years ago. And from the Olympics he will head to Spain for the Vuelta – a race he started as a neo-pro in 2011. Although BMC have only confirmed van Garderen and Samuel Sanchez on their roster thus far, Phinney is on the longlist.
“This is by far the biggest event of my season. In April and May I wasn’t feeling quite up to the task of doing a Grand Tour. Ideally I would have loved to have done the Giro or the Tour and then come into the Olympics but that would have been premature,” Phinney told Cyclingnews.
“The Olympic time trial has been the number one event I’ve looked forward to over the last four years. This year was very much focused on trying to arrive at this event while also trying to rebuild the strength in my leg and get to a place where I could be the strongest. In terms of the last two years, right now, talking to you, I feel stronger left, right, body and mind, than I have since I stared my recovery.”
The Vuelta is a race in which BMC are likely to have several ambitions. Phinney will look to test his legs over three weeks, target specific stages, and use the experience to help deliver him into 2017 as the peak of his condition. Van Garderen, who skips the Olympics, will likely use the Vuelta to resurrect his Grand Tour ambitions having cracking at the Tour de France in the second half of the race.
“I’m really excited for the next three months. I’m going to Rio and then the Vuelta, which I’m going to give a crack. The team has given me the green light there to race with Tejay hopefully,” Phinney told Cyclingnews.
“I also didn’t think that I’d be ready for it after some stage races earlier in the season but having the time since the classics and just having been in the gym a lot and I talked to Allan Peiper and we’re going to have an osteopath at the Vuelta so I feel happy and have the confidence to take on another Grand Tour.”