Phinney to start season at Tour du Haut Var-Matin

American will also race inaugural Tour La Provence

After almost five months out of competition, Taylor Phinney (BMC) will start his 2016 campaign at the Tour du Haut Var this weekend. He will then race the inaugural Tour La Provence, which begins next Tuesday.

Phinney had been set to begin his year at the Dubai Tour earlier this month, but that was put back. He has not raced since the World Championships last September, and he’s raring to go ahead of the two-day race in France this weekend.

"I'm excited about racing in Provence, and the two races are historically good for the team," said Phinney. "The French teams always come out strong, so I'm expecting some hard and aggressive racing."

Phinney is ultimately still on the comeback trail since suffering a serious injury in a crash at the US national championships in 2014. This season is set to be his first full year of competition since the accident. The 25-year-old made his comeback to racing at the Tour of Utah last August after more than a year on the sidelines.

Victory came quickly when he claimed a stage at his second race back, the US Pro Challenge, and he was also part of the BMC team that secured a second successive team time trial title at the World Championships. His comeback had its challenges, though, and he completed just 24 race days last season.

BMC will be going into this duo of French races without a specific target, but with the aim of giving opportunities to all. With Phinney will be Vuelta a España stage winner Alessandro De Marchi, Peter Velits, Amaël Moinard, Tom Bohli, Floris Gerts, Manel Senni and Loïc Vliegen. Both races will feature hilly parcours, with La Provence lending its self particularly to puncheurs and rouleurs.

"Our objective is to continue the success that the team has already experienced this season. All of the riders are in good shape after solid training camps in December and January, so we expect to be up there at the front of these races,” said directeur sportif Yvon Ledanois.

The Tour du Haut Var takes place between February 20-21 while the Tour La Provence is set to run over three days from February 23-25.

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