After a sterling debut at the Tour of Flanders last week, Taylor Phinney (BMC) turns to his more favoured terrain of Paris-Roubaix on Sunday. Phinney has had his eyes set on this date in the calendar for some time now. He arrives at it in good shape and hopes to use his performance at Flanders as a building block for success this weekend.
"Paris-Roubaix is my favourite one-day race of the season and it’s been my biggest goal, thinking back to the winter and my training. So I am happy to be here healthy and with good fitness. I have big goals for this weekend as well as the team," Phinney told reporters at the team press conference at their Kortrijk hotel.
"Sunday was definitely big for me. I was really happy with the effort that I put in and how my legs felt. I’ve been pretty low-key this week. It’s one thing to be in these races, but it’s something else to be in the break all day and pushing all day so I definitely took it easy this week and it was a great effort leading into this Sunday."
Phinney played a team role at Flanders, helping teammate Greg van Avermaet to his second place by getting into the break. Phinney was one of the last men standing from the original group, but the move meant that he was left "surviving" for the remaining 45 kilometres and finished well down on his teammate. This weekend’s parcours is much better suited to the American and he will be looking to have a different ending to his day and finish at the pointy end of proceedings.
"I want to be a key factor in those last 50km and be able to play along with my teammates. Hopefully Thor and Greg will be up there, and some of the other guys, and we can play our cards, have some fun and do our race from the front. I can never be sure that I’ll be there but that’s my big goal to be up there."
In the weight obsessed world of cycling, where your power to rate ratio is increasingly important, Phinney’s 6’5" figure, and the heavier weight that comes with it, can often hinder him. It allows him to develop the power that’s already given him a silver medal in the world time trial championships, but often works against him in the stage races. Paris-Roubaix’s lack of ascents is one of the reasons why Phinney has developed a love affair with the race.
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"In a sport where I’m one of the biggest riders, I don’t have many advantages when it comes to racing normal races, because there are always climbs. I weigh a fair amount more than Nairo Quintana, who is sprinting away from me. For guys like Thor and I, it’s one of our only chances to have an advantage. I think that’s why we like the race so much.
The BMC rider has ridden at Paris-Roubaix twice previously as an elite rider and won the under 23 category on two occasions. His best performance since turning professional was 15th in his debut race, but over-excitement killed it for him last year and he didn’t have the legs to take it to the big names. Phinney has learned his lesson from both previous attempts at the race and is hoping to use it to drive him towards a successful 2014 edition.
"You get stronger every year, it’s not a race that you can dive in and just expect to do really well. I kind of survived the last couple of edition and was up there, but I was either working for the team in the beginning, like the first year, or getting a little bit too excited like last year, and I kind of put myself out of the race. I have learned a lot with regards to experience and being patient and it’s the same in a lot of these one-day classics."