While Taylor Phinney has been a vocal critic of the decision to drop the individual pursuit from the Olympic Games, the talented young American rider has confirmed that he has no plans to give up on the event.
“My main goal is that world record,” he said. “I don’t think I am going to stop pursuing until I get it. It is so hard, but really rewarding.”
Several of the big pursuiters in the sport have questioned whether they will continue with the 4000 metre event after it was removed from the Olympic programme. The International Cycling Union (UCI) has increased the number of women’s races and with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) not being willing to award more medals, some key contests had to be cut.
However Phinney’s goal of improving Chris Boardman’s 1996 mark of 4 minutes 11.114 seconds will ensure that he continues to mix road and track for several seasons more. He recorded a time of 4 minutes 16.1 in yesterday’s qualification session, almost a second off his personal best of 4 minutes 15.160 he set in last year’s world championships.
At this point in time, he is still learning about how to best prepare for the event. Phinney realises that it will take a couple of seasons to work out how to get things exactly right, and to ensure that he continues to get closer to Boardman’s time. While Boardman’s time was set using the now-banned Superman position, Phinney believes it can be beaten under current regulations.
“In training I have been focussing on the ending efforts. I wanted to go even faster than 4.16 [in the final] but it wasn’t going to happen,” he told Cyclingnews. “I think as I progress, I want to be able to go faster in the finals than in qualifying. So that is something that I look forward to.”
Finding the best way to mix his road and track careers is also part of the learning process. The two have quite different demands and as he continues to develop on the road, he will need to determine how to combine both to best effect.
“Having a road base definitely helps a lot with the track, but it is such a high power involved [in the pursuit] and to just have to hold it, sustain it, for the whole time makes it so much different,” he said. “Boardman did it - he rode the Tour de France and then broke the world record. I think I have a couple of years to go, but that world record is what I really want. I think eventually we will get it.”
A more immediate goal for Phinney is to try to grab another Olympic gold in Denmark. He was sixth in the Omnium at last year’s worlds and plans to try to improve on that on Sunday.
“I have been focussing on the pursuit as it is close to my heart,” he admitted. “But the Omnium is the future, at least for the Olympics, unfortunately.
“We will see how that goes here,” he added. “I think if I play it smarter than I did last year, it will go even better than back then. At least the podium, maybe the win…I will do as well as I can.”
Once the curtain comes down on these championships, Phinney will return to racing on the road with Trek-Livestrong and the USA National Team. He impressed in 2009 with results such as first in the prologue of the Fleche du Sud and a win in the Under 23 Paris-Roubaix, and wants to continue to progress.
“I go to Belgium and I’ll do some one-day racing there, some Under 23 Nations cups like the Under 23 Tour of Flanders. I am fit right now, so I look forward to those. After that, I’ll have a little racing in the US before coming back to Europe for the Under 23 Paris-Roubaix at the end of May. I won that last year, so hopefully I can defend that again this year.”
Phinney indicated that he will focus on one day races for the next couple of years before deciding what the best direction for his career is. He’ll continue to juggle road and track, chasing medals in London 2012 and also continuing to chip away at Boardman’s pursuit mark.