Phinney got his Giro off to the best possible start in Herning as he roared to victory in the opening prologue time trial. He would go on to hold the pink jersey until the race’s return to Italy, but a crash in the finishing straight in Horsens on stage 3 left him with a puncture wound to his foot and added significantly to the difficulty of the Giro’s first week.
In this context, it’s perhaps not surprising that Phinney plumped for stage 6 to Porto Sant’Elpidio as the most trying moment of his race. While not boasting the same vertiginous peaks as the stages in the Dolomites in the final week, the trek through the rolling roads of the Marche posed it own problems.
“By this point in the race, I’d lost the pink jersey and the white jersey and I was kind of hanging on by a thread,” Phinney said. “It was a medium mountain stage but we still had like 3,500 metres of climbing. It was all really short, steep climbs.”
After being dropped early on the stage, Phinney had to push hard to make it home inside the time limit in the company of Mark Cavendish (Sky), and he labelled the final two kilometres of the stage as the “hardest of the race.”
“I didn’t have a lot in my reserves and I had to dig myself out of a pretty big hole that day,” he said. “That was the day that I finished with Cavendish, 31 seconds within the time limit, so that was a pretty close call. It only got better from that point on.”