Taylor Phinney (Trek-Livestrong) is primed to put on a show at the USA Cycling Pro Championships held this weekend in Greenville, South Carolina.
The 20-year-old, reigning world pursuit champion, will compete in his first-ever elite national championships and is focused on winning the stars and stripes jersey in the individual time trial on Saturday.
“It is my first elite national cycling championships so I have a long career ahead of me,” Phinney told Cyclingnews. “But I would like to
achieve as much as I possibly can as young as I am. I do have realistic goals so the podium is the big one and if I got to the top step I would be very happy.”
The best time trial contenders in the nation will compete along a 33.3km course consisting of three 11km circuits at the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research. “I spent two days riding on the course and did some efforts and looked at the corners,” Phinney said.
Phinney put forth a strong performance at the recent Tour de l’Avenir, winning the 7.8km prologue ahead of his Trek-Livestrong teammate and current UK and European time trial champion Alex Dowsett. He maintained the overall race lead during the opening two stages.
“I feel really good and my fitness after l’Avenir is really high so I have some high hopes for this weekend,” Phinney said. “It is a star studded field so I will do my best to be up there. I’m coming off of one of the longest stage races I have ever done. It was eight days and a 32-hour race week which was a lot.”
“I finished stage eight and I felt great,” he added. “That was a good sign that my fitness was coming up throughout the race and I was resting well.
Prior to the Tour de l’Avenir, Phinney competed in the Tour of Utah where he won the prologue. He continued his success in the individual event winning the stage three time trial two seconds ahead of Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack).
Leipheimer is also eyeing a second national title in the time trial,
having won his first in 1999. He and Phinney are the two odds-on favorites along with Scott Zwizanski (Kelly Benefit Strategies), who placed third last year. Defending Champion Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Transitions) will not be competing.
“Technically I have only beaten Levi once,” Phinney said. “It was only by two seconds and he didn’t have a skin suit on. So I’m going to have to pull out a little bit extra for Saturday. If I can beat Levi that would be awesome.”
Phinney noted that his main objective in the national road race is to get in one more solid training day before his main goal of winning world title at the UCI Under 23 Time Trial World Championships.
“The main goal of the whole end of the season has been the Worlds,” Phinney said. “I have won a fair amount of time trials this year and my time trialing has been very good, better than I ever thought it was going to be.”
“The world championship title is very special and that is what I’ve been trying to peak for. My fitness is there and there are just a couple more weeks before I give it everything there and then the season is over.”