Phinney eyes Tour of California time trial win and the yellow jersey

Taylor Phinney (BMC) rode the front today

Taylor Phinney (BMC) rode the front today (Image credit: Jonathan Devich)

BMC Racing's Taylor Phinney has big goals for the Tour of California Stage 2 time trial, where he plans to win the stage and take the overall race lead away from Omega Pharma-QuickStep sprinter Mark Cavendish — and his chances of success are pretty good.

"I've thought about this time trial for a while because it is a really good opportunity to get in the yellow jersey, if I'm able to win the stage." Phinney told Cyclingnews. "The time trial is my big goal. It's my second time here but I've never won a stage of the Tour of California, so I would like to perform."

The Tour of California time trial is held on a relatively flat 20.1km course in Folsom on Monday. Phinney is qualified to be one of the race favorites, a multi-time track world champion and time trial specialist with has a win under his belt from the Dubai Tour's individual time trial. Last year, he won a stage at the Tour de Pologne and Tour of Qatar. The year before that, he won time trials at the Giro d'Italia and the USA Pro Challenge.

Phinney placed 10th in the opening stage sprint in Sacramento and goes into the time trial 10 seconds behind Cavendish, who took the initial race lead. He wants to add the Tour of California time trial win to his list of accolades. "It's always nice to race in America and try to win here," he said. "And anytime you're able to pull on a leader's jersey that's very special."

Phinney faces strong opposition from 2012 Tour de France winner and Olympic time trial gold medalist Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky). Other podium contenders for the stage are Rohan Dennis (Garmin-Sharp), US time trial champion Tom Zirbel (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies), Jesse Sergent (Trek Factory Racing) and Serghei Tvetcov (Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis).

Following the time trial, Phinney says he will shift into more of a worker's role for teammate Peter Stetina, who will assume his position as the team's overall contender this week. Stetina will be targeting summit finishes during Stage 3 on Mount Diablo and Stage 6 on Mount High North.

"Peter will be the GC guy for the team and I will do whatever I can to help him this week," Phinney said. "I'll be working for him after the time trial, but we'll see if there are any opportunities later in the week for me."

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Kirsten Frattini