Taylor Phinney (Team BMC) has pinpointed the London Olympic cycling time trial as a major objective for the coming season but the American flyer is well aware that he will face stiff competition to even qualify for the event.
The US Olympic team only has one slot for the men’s individual time trial after a meek showing in this year’s world championships in Copenhagen. As a result, Phinney must compete with riders Levi Leipheimer, Dave Zabriskie, and Andrew Talansky for a coveted place in London.
“I’m going to be gunning for the Olympics next year and we’ll see how realistic my chances are there as the year progresses,” Phinney told Cyclingnews from his home in Colorado.
“We only get one spot so that will be an interesting selection process. We’ll see how that pans out. Obviously there are the more experienced guys like Dave Zabriskie and Levi Leipheimer but I want to come out next season and have a really good start to the season and prove to the selectors that I’m the man for the job.”
London 2012 will be the last realistic chance for the likes of Leiphiemer and Zabriskie to compete in an Olympic event and with both riders the wrong side of 30, it will be a tough selection for the US committee to make – give one last hurrah to one of their elder statesman or provide an opportunity to the new generation?
“It’s an interesting balance as to whether you want to give the younger guys more experience or the older guys what is potentially their last shot.”
But Phinney, who showed glimpses of his class against the clock with a win in the Eneco prologue and 5th in the long time trial at the Vuelta, believes that he best rider should be picked on merit.
“I think whoever has a standout performance, they’ll take them. I know the automatic selection is if you have a top 3 in a time trial over 45k in a time trial. The only time trial of that sort is at the Tour and if you look at my fifth from the Vuelta this year, that was the best result of the 2011 season.
“But a lot of things can change in the off season and I’m looking forward to being at my best and trying to compete with those guys.”