Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing Team) has confirmed he will again ride the Giro d'Italia, with the goal of taking the race leader's maglia rosa in the stage two team time trial.
Phinney came of age in last year's Giro d'Italia, winning the opening time trial in Denmark and wearing the pink jersey for three days. He went on to finish in Milan – his first Grand Tour finish of his career, and then used his form to build for the Olympic and world championships time trials; finishing fourth and second in each event.
Phinney tested his form at the Tour of Qatar on Thursday, going on the attack in the final part of the stage. The move was pulled back but Phinney remains third overall behind Mark Cavendish and seems to be on track for a success season.
"I've finally had a winter without any physical problems. I've never had such a complete preparation. I'm healthy, happy and relaxed," Phinney told Gazzetta dello Sport.
"I'm 85kg, about the same as I was at the end of the Giro d'Italia. Finishing the Giro changed me as a person and as a rider. I always knew I had the physique for the track and time trials and so climbing all the mountains wasn't easy for someone of my weight. But now I'm more complete as a rider."
Phinney has no regrets about his fourth place at the London Olympics and second at the world championships in Limburg. However he is determined to make up for losing the maglia rosa at the Giro d'Italia.
He was taken down in the high-speed crash on stage to Horsens, when Roberto Ferrari cut across the peloton and chopped down Mark Cavendish. Phinney injured his foot and crossed the finish line in an ambulance but ignored the pain and returned to the podium area to pull on the pink jersey. However his injuries slowed him in the team time trial on stage three in Verona and he lost the pink jersey.
"I was disappointed not to be at my best in the Verona TTT after I'd crashed in Denmark. I couldn't defend the pink jersey as I'd hoped," Phinney told Gazzetta. "But I've already identified when I'll make up for it: in Ischia, on day two of the Giro d'Italia. Perhaps I can take the pink jersey too."
Taking a stand against pain killers
Phinney now lives near Quarrata and works closely with Max Sciandri. He told Gazzetta dello Sport he is ready to accept the responsibility of being the new face of American cycling after the doping confession and Lance Armstrong affair.
"I want to show that there are American riders in the peloton that are different to those of the past," he said, reiterating his stance against the use of painkillers.
"I know that these are important years for cycling. Lance's story gave more motivation to train, even in bad weather. I'm severe when it comes to anti-doping, I don’t even use pain killers and I want people to know that, so people know that you can reach the top of cycling just with training and hard work. That's what I do. We've got to get rid of the pill culture, even when it's not doping."