Taylor Phinney will kick-start his 2010 season at the Tour of Qatar next month, leading his Trek-Livestrong squad against one of the highest quality fields the under-23 team will have faced in their short two-year history.
The US-based team will compete in the six-day event, which begins with a four-kilometre team time trial, and Phinney believes that the team has what it takes to not only take on the ProTour ranks but also cause a few surprises.
"I’m not going to say that we’re going to go there and win the team time trial prologue, but its big goal and the perfect race for us. We have a strong group of time trial riders and if everything goes to plan and we go as fast as I’d like we can certainly be up there. It’s a big goal. I wouldn’t be surprised if we got a big result," Phinney told Cyclingnews.
Alongside Phinney, Trek-Livestrong's Qatar line-up will contain Jesse Sergent and Alex Dowsett, both of whom are time trial specialists. During the team’s recent training camp in Solvang, California, the riders trained specifically for the event.
"I love team time trialling," Phinney said, whose last venture into the discipline was back in his junior days. "It’s faster and more fun that going on your own. The only ones I’ve done have been really technical and that’s not really what we’ll get in Qatar. It’s going to be a good experience for the team."
"It’s the biggest race we’ll have done when it comes to racing against guys like [Quick Step's Tom] Boonen and the top professional teams but there’s the potential that we might do the Tour of Missouri later on in the year too. We had the opportunity last year but I crashed and got sick, so it wasn’t an option."
Despite entering the race with an optimistic mindset, Phinney is aware that the team won’t get an easy ride. "We’re going into Qatar knowing that it won’t be an easy race for us but we can do it. We’re all young guys but we can do it. I'm look forward to mixing it up with some of the big guys."
After the Tour of Qatar, Phinney will head to Denmark for the World Track Championships, followed by a stint in Belgium racing in the under-23 - or espoir - Classics. Last year he won the espoir version of Paris-Roubaix.
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