Bigger goal for Taylor Phinney: Time Trial rainbow stripes or prized Paris-Roubaix cobble? We find out
By Chris Lyman
How has the season gone so far? Are you where you expected to be?
It’s gone pretty well. It hasn’t been like a super, super season. But I got a great result in Milan-San Remo with the top 10 (he finished seventh). Unfortunately, I didn’t quite get the result I wanted at my key, target race: Paris-Roubaix. Other than that, the first half of my season has gone by pretty quickly.
As you continue to grow and learn, what’s most critical?
I’d say it’s probably more on the fitness side of the things due to the fact that I’m a lot bigger than most of the people that I race with. It’s taken me a couple more years for the watts to even out with the weight of my 85 kilos and being almost two meters tall.
On a team full of stars, what are some of the most meaningful lessons/takeaways that you’ve gleaned from them?
I think it’s important to remember that we’re all just guys, humans. You build people up in your mind to be a certain way or to act a certain way or to carry themselves a certain way . But at the end of the day, they’re still humans – maybe with some media and added attention. We tend to build up athletes to be super humans. But really, they’re just people who can ride their bikes a bit faster than other people.
How does being the underdog, contender, or favorite adjust how you psychologically approach a race?
I don’t really mind much what my ‘title’ is going into a race – whether it’s being a no-name or a favorite. I go into a race with the confidence that i’ve gained over long periods of time in training, specifically about a race. So I go into a race that I want to win saying I want to win it. That way, mentally, is the goal. So why not be able to talk about that, no matter what?
What was the game plan for BMC and Milan-San Remo before Mother Nature threw a wrench in it?
I kind of had a bit of a wildcard role. I was there with Philipe (Gilbert) and Greg (Van Avermaet) most of the day. So when I saw that I had a chance to bridge across to the front group, it was a split-second decision that I made at the bottom of the descent of the Poggio. I just went and almost caught them around 400 meters. But then they started their sprints.
You were already noted as a spring classics contender, was MSR a statement race?
No, not really. I went through a wide range of emotions that day: from starting the race, to being in the bus in the middle, to fighting to the finish. It was more of just a crazy day than trying to send a message.
Things didn’t go as planned at Paris-Roubaix but that’s racing. As a two-time U23 winner, what will it take to win it as a pro?
I think that preparing for the race is really important. In the U23 Paris-Roubaix, all you have is that race. You kind of just build up for it and it happens. But as a pro, you have Milan-San Remo, Gent-Wevelgem, the Tour of Flanders and then Paris-Roubaix. So you have a different approach, a different build up in preparing for that. You’re doing an every effort every weekend for almost four weeks in a row. What you do in between physically, when I am on my best day, I can be there. But it’s being able to be at 100 percent and taking care of myself and figuring out the logistics and preparation is the difference.
Bigger sporting goal: time trial world championship or Paris-Roubaix?
What’s the next big goal for you this year?
My next, most immediate goal is the Giro d’Italia. Primarily to finish it and get another grand tour under my belt. My long-term goal for the season is the world championship time trial.