Reigning US time trial champion Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing) told Cyclingnews this week that he hopes to recover from injuries suffered in a crash earlier this year at the US pro road race in time to compete in next season's Tour de France and world championships.
The 24-year-old BMC rider, who won the Giro d'Italia prologue in 2012 and took second in the time trial world championships that same year, met with the press at Interbike Wednesday to talk about the course for the 2015 UCI Road World Championships next September in Richmond, Virginia.
“If everything continues to go in the trajectory it's on now, I definitely want to be racing by at least early season next year,” he said. “If I'm back by early season, I'll definitely be at worlds.”
Phinney suffered serious injuries to his left leg back in June when an official on a motorcycle obstructed his line going into a tricky corner on a descent at 85kph. He suffered a compound fracture to his tibia, a severed patella tendon and a compound fracture to his patella.
Although he'd ideally like to be back for the spring classics next year, Phinney said a return for those races might not be a realistic goal.
“[The Classics] involve a lot of torque,” he said. “It's just hard on the body. So whether or not I'm able to come back for the Classics or have to focus on something else and keep the focus mainly on trying to make the Tour de France team and then the worlds team, then that will be what it is. We'll make that decision in December, January or February.”
Phinney started his season by winning the overall at the Tour of Dubai. He placed seventh at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and was 30th at Paris Roubaix. He won a stage at the Tour of California with a daring solo breakaway and was on track to compete in his first Tour de France when his season came to an abrupt end.
After three months of recovery, Phinney still walks with a limp and was using a cane to get around the Interbike floor. But he said he is relatively pain free and has been cleared to ride without any restrictions on his power.
“I did like four hours the other day,” he said. “I don't have any restrictions anymore as far as how many watts I can do. It's just my discomfort level. If I feel any pain I kind of back off. I don't do any slow cadence climbing, but I can tap it out and do some good watts on the flat. I can drop some recreational Sunday cyclists, so I'm pretty stoked about that.”
Once he is cleared to start racing again, Phinney believes he will be able to resume a competitive spot within the peloton relatively quickly.
“It's not like I've been out for a couple years,” he said. “It's not like I've been on the couch, but the saying is 'jumping off the couch into a race' and still be relatively competitive, especially if I have a good solid base of training.”
As for the Richmond road course and its cobbled climb up Libby Hill, Phinney said it is a fitting course for worlds and should produce a good selection and worthy champion.
“I'm going to pre-ride it in October,” he said. “But I have seen the profiles and stuff, and it definitely looks good for a rider of my type, for like an American classics course. So, yeah, it's going to be pretty cool. I don't think they're like Flanders cobbles or Roubaix cobbles. They're not really bad, but for sure it's a small road. It's twisty and it will cause somewhat of a selection. Maybe not the cobbles themselves, but just right afterward.
“I think it will be an exciting finale,” he said. “I think you'll see a lot of small groups and attacks in the final little bit of the race. Hopefully a little group gets away from the main pack and kind of steals that thunder. Hopefully that involves me.”