Taylor Phinney (United States) said he felt like a 'wuss' as he battled with the Doha temperatures at the UCI Road World Championships during the elite men's time trial. Last weekend, Phinney had said the route, which he rode on Sunday as part of the team time trial, was one that suited him, but he could only manage 15th place when all was said and done.
"I think I lost a lot more brain cells than I lost weight. It was a really weird race mentally because it was so hot," said Phinney, dripping sweat as if he'd been run under a tap. "It was good about halfway, and I knew getting out onto the highway you had to keep it rolling but there's nothing to do but feel pain. It feels kind of late in the season, well at least in my brain it felt late in the season to have that ability to keep the focus off the pain. I felt like kind of a wuss out there."
Phinney went into the event with a silver medal in the team time trial already in his back pocket. He began well, holding his position over the two checkpoints, but the final 14 kilometres were a stretch too far, and he cracked, slipping down the rankings as he approached the line. The American told the press that his mentality was perhaps not where it should have been after a long season and a big push for the TTT.
"I definitely feel that it has been a long season. It's October already, so mentally I was unsure," Phinney said, adding that the lack of crowds had also made for a strange experience. "Being here it doesn't feel like we're at the World Championships because there's nobody here. We're out in the desert and it's the middle of October, and it's like 100 degrees. Mentally, I was in a strange place coming here. I was really focused on the team time trial, and then I was just winging it today. I tried to start conservatively, but I still blew the sh*t around halfway through."
The dearth of roadside support has been extremely apparent, with only a handful of fans at the start and finishes of the time trials. All the other events were run entirely around the Pearl while the men started out in Lusail and had a long stretch of road to conquer before they could take on the artificial island. Phinney said that the solitude was something that he struggled with.
"It's not like we have massive crowds at all of our time trials, but the Olympics in London was just packed, and you definitely get some energy from the crowd," he said. "A course like this, it's a bit like Florence in 2013 where there was a long straight section. It was like 20 minutes of banging your head against a wall."
With that, Phinney could stay no longer in the press area, too exhausted to process coherent thoughts. "I'm f*cked up man, I can't think about anything," he said, riding off towards the team area further down the course.
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Born in Ireland to a cycling family and later moved to the Isle of Man, so there was no surprise when I got into the sport. Studied sports journalism at university before going on to do a Masters in sports broadcast. After university I spent three months interning at Eurosport, where I covered the Tour de France. In 2012 I started at Procycling Magazine, before becoming the deputy editor of Procycling Week. I then joined Cyclingnews, in December 2013.