Taylor Phinney has endured a rollercoaster 18 months after fracturing his leg in the US national road race championships. His career was close to being over and he took time away from the sport to rediscover his love for racing and training.
His almost instant success on his return to racing this summer proved he is on the way back and his Worlds team time trial title with BMC has boosted his own morale and that of US cycling as it hosts the World Championships for the first time since 1986.
Phinney’s long return from injury means he is an outsider in the 53km time trial against recognised favourites Tony Martin (Germany), Tom Dumoulin (Netherlands) and Rohan Dennis (Australia) but his pedigree in big events and ability to raise his game when racing in the stars and stripes should not be overlooked. Phinney loves a big stage and is often inspired by a big moment.
The one thing I learned with him is you can never say it's impossible,” USA Cycling's VP of Athletics Jim Miller said on the eve of the World Championships when discussing Phinney’s chances. “He always rises to the occasion above and beyond what you think is reasonable and surprises the crap out of you."
Phinney has kept a low profile since celebrating Sunday’s team time trial success with his BMC teammates. He has done some final training and studied the 53km course in Richmond. His form is good but doubts remain over his endurance for such a long time trial. However, BMC team time trial coach Marco Pinotti has revealed that Phinney produced the second best performance in the team time trial on Sunday behind Dennis.
Phinney revealed that his form has been boosted by the home crowd in the USA.
“I know what I can do and I know what I’m capable of doing,” he told Cyclingnews after Sunday’s success. “Now it’s mostly a mental game, the work is done. The energy around here is awesome. It feels like I’m at home - that’s a unique feeling for a world championships. It gives me extra energy and it’s an advantage for sure.”
His only tweet about the time trial came on Tuesday, when he hinted he was ready to produce a big ride. He wrote: “Big day tomorrow. First 50+km TT I will have done for a while, but I feel ready! My start time is 2:24pm eastern. #Richmond2015 #RidewithUS.”
Phinney starts his time trial at 2:24 local time, about half an hour before the final rider Tony Martin rolls down the start ramp.
Cyclingnews will have full live coverage of the elite men’s time trial.