Taylor Phinney had a rocky start to the 2016 season, but found his World Championships form in the opening team time trial at Tirreno-Adriatico, where he helped the team to the stage victory over rivals Etixx-Quickstep.
Phinney said he was inspired by being reunited with teammate Tejay van Garderen - BMC's hopeful for the overall victory in Tirreno-Adriatico - in their first race together since Phinney's devastating crash with a motorbike in the 2014 USA national championships.
"This is a great group of guys, we all get along really well. It's my first race back with Tejay since I came back - he wasn't at the World Championships because he broke his shoulder [in the Vuelta a Espana -ed.]," Phinney told Cyclingnews.
Phinney returned from his severe leg injury after more than a year of rehabilitation and surgeries at the Tour of Utah last August. He went on to win the first stage in the USA Pro Challenge, and then helped to propel BMC to the world title in the team time trial in Richmond last fall.
However, his first races of 2016 - the Tour du Haut Var, Tour Cycliste International La Provence and Strade Bianche - didn't go as well. But after a trip to Belgium to get some physiotherapy, Phinney seems to have re-found his speed in Italy.
"If there's one thing I know I'm still good at, it's team time trials. After racing in France last week, and feeling like I got beat up, it's nice to come here, really close to where I used to live in Lucca, we're only 30k away," he said.
"We were going so fast at the start, I thought it was maybe too fast. With 2k to go I was almost on the verge of throwing up, so I knew at least I was on a good day. We were all super pumped up at the start, felt kind of like caged animals that were about to be let free. I'm starting to appreciate that feeling, that fire of being on the line."
What the coming days hold for Phinney is uncertain. He came into the race with a "one step at a time" philosophy, and will not be part of the team's effort to keep van Garderen in contention for the overall victory. The 10km time trial in San Benedetto del Tronto on Tuesday might end up being a target depending on how the race goes for him.
"We'll see how the next few days go - I've been hesitant coming into the season. It's nice to be able to celebrate with the team. I know I have some work to do. But now I'm looking forward to the last stage. We have a great team for the overall, to defend. Andy Rihs is here, and any time we can win in front of the big boss is good."
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