BMC sports director Max Sciandri has praised Taylor Phinney after his victory in the opening time trial at the Dubai Tour and made it clear that the team will back the prodigious American and do everything possible to win overall.
"The next step, the next plan, is to win the overall. I want that and he wants that. We need to come together as a team. We're good at doing that, we've shown that we can do it and so we're ready to defend Taylor's lead," Sciandri told Cyclingnews.
"There are time bonuses of three, two, and one second at the finish and two one-second time bonuses at the intermediate sprints. But Taylor tested his sprinting at the Tour de San Luis and showed he can do it with some results."
BMC perfectly executed a well made race strategy in the time trial. Phinney won in a time of 12:03, covering the 9.9km course at an average of 50.29 km/h. He revealed he set a personal power record, producing 490 watts for the 12 minutes.
That effort allowed him to beat teammate Steve Cummings by 14 seconds, with Lasse Norman Hansen (Garmin-Sharp) third at 16 seconds. Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) was only fourth, at 22 seconds, with a convalescent and behind-on-form Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) fifth at 25 seconds.
"The plan was to come here and do well: to win. We have both Taylor and Thor for that. Taylor is the better time trialist but Thor is fast in the sprints and there are time bonuses," Sciandri explained.
"Steve Cummings is on form, too, and I put him off first so we could see what the conditions are like from a guy who could have won too. The organisers wanted Taylor to start later but we asked that he start early because we said we were here to win. I know Tony Martin was a bit angry but he's world champion and has to start last because he's world champion. We can't do anything about that."
Sciandri and Phinney are close, even if the American no longer lives in Sciandri's home town of Quarrata in Tuscany after moving to Nice to work closely with coach Bobby Julich. Both BMC staff members and the guiding hand of Allan Peiper as sporting manager, seems to have a positive influence on Phinney's early season form and development.
"He's stepped up now," Sciandri pointed out.
"This is how we wanted him two or three years ago and how he and all his family and friends wanted him. It's taken him a while to adjust and change but that's okay. He's still a young guy and one year makes a big difference. He learns from his mistakes. He's been able to move forward, adjust and learn."
"We've learned from our mistakes as a team last year. We've already had some good results in San Luis and from Cadel at the Tour Down Under. Now Taylor has won here and we're going to carry it on here."