2013 will again be a season of two halves for Taylor Phinney as the American looks to continue his development in the Classics and against the watch. As was the case last year, the opening months of Phinney’s campaign will be built around the cobbled Classics while the back end of the season will see his thoughts turn firmly to the time trial at the world championships in Florence.
“The first half of the year is pretty Classics oriented and then I can ride the Giro, finish it, then go back home for a little rest,” Phinney told reporters at BMC’s team presentation in Nazareth, Belgium.
After completing the Giro last May, Phinney didn’t race again until the Olympic Games in London and he credited a lengthy block of training at home in Colorado as the foundation for his twin fourth place finishes in the road race and time trial, and he is set to repeat the formula in 2013.
“Where I live in Boulder is perfect for time trial training. One way you go to the mountains, the other you just go flat and it’s at altitude, so I’ll be able to go home and focus specifically on what I need to do in Florence,” Phinney said.
Along with his near-misses in London, Phinney picked up a brace of silver medals in the time trial events at the world championships in Valkenburg, but he freely admitted that luck had not been a factor in his narrow defeat to Tony Martin in the individual event. The 22-year-old is hopeful that an injury-free winter and another Giro d’Italia outing can bring him closer still to the German’s standard.
“I think having another Grand Tour under my belt – hopefully the Giro this year – will just bump me up another level,” he said. “I also had two knee injuries last off-season and the off-season before that, so I think being healthy and having more concentrated training will bring me to that place where I need to be to beat the Panzerwagen.”
Phinney also said that he could understand why Fabian Cancellara, who dominated the world time trial championships prior to Martin’s current reign, has suggested that he will now scale back his devotion to the discipline.
“He has four world championships and an Olympic gold medal so there’s not much more you can do from there and time trialling sucks a lot – it’s really hard, it’s an hour of pain, so why would you want to do that to yourself?” Phinney said. “It’s sort of similar to me in the individual pursuit on the track. I won the world championships, they took it out of the Olympic programme and then I was like ‘this is a terrible four minutes on my life so I’m going to focus on something else now’ because I’d reached as high as I could in that small, specific category.”
Phinney jokingly rejected any speculation that he might one day develop into a rider capable of competing for the general classification in Grand Tours but admitted that he did harbour ambitions of replicating the feats of teammate Thor Hushovd in the mountains of the Tour de France.
“I won’t be a contender in the next, let’s say, 12 years,” Phinney deadpanned. “But you see what Thor has been able to do over the past couple of years in the Tour, he’s done some amazing things in the yellow jersey and outside of that to win stages, so that is something that I would be looking towards as I get to that level in a couple of years. But at the moment, we have a relatively complicated Tour team, so I choose the Giro.”
While Phinney is aiming to contribute heavily to American cycling’s future, the spectre of its past continues to linger. A New York Times report suggests that Lance Armstrong will offer a limited doping confession in his pre-recorded interview with Oprah Winfrey which will be televised on Thursday evening, but Phinney, who rode for the Trek-Livestrong team as an under-23, was not keen to speculate on what Armstrong might say.
“I have no idea. If I had Oprah’s number on my phone I’d give her a call and see what she’s going to ask him. But we have no idea of that, we’re waiting to see what happens as much as everybody else,” said Phinney, who admitted that he was unsure if he would watch the transmission.
“It depends on what time it is. I have a job, you know. And part of my job is sleeping so I’m going to make sure that I do my job first and then see what good old Lancelot is up to.”