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"I didn't play the sprint so well I had a little bit of a gap coming out of the last corner and just hit it. I was a bit nervous I guess." 

Photo: ©Tim De Waele/TDW Sport






04.08.2015 @ 13:57 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Taylor Phinney of the BMC Racing Team finished third Monday at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah as he made his return to competition 62 weeks after being seriously injured in a crash.

Phinney bridged to a breakaway group in the final five kilometers of the 212.5-kilometer race and led through the final corner with 500 meters to go. But the two-time U.S. national time trial champion could not hold off stage winner Kiel Reijnen (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team) and runner-up Alex Howes (Cannondale-Garmin).

"I didn't play the sprint so well," Phinney said. "I had a little bit of a gap coming out of the last corner and just hit it. I was a bit nervous I guess.


“Watching those two, who are really close friends of mine, go up the road and I was just remembering how deeply I wanted to be part of that. I watched those guys go and I was like ‘I’m not going to let you guys go without me this time.’ I had to make a little bit of a bridge to get up there.”

Phinney had gone 434 days without racing after fracturing his left leg and injuring his left knee in a crash at the 2014 USA Cycling national road championships in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The two-time U.S. national time trial champion said he "felt pretty terrible" during the cold, rain-soaked race that started and finished in Logan. But after checking in with Sport Director Jackson Stewart at the BMC Racing Team Acura RDX team car, he had a revelation.

"Jackson told me the time gap and I just put it together that the sprinter's team were working really hard," Phinney said. "With the wet, and also the tiny little climb on the circuit, it could be a good opportunity to go for it. I saw some guys attacking right before we got into town and followed some of those moves. I got a little excited."

Also making a comeback Monday was teammate Peter Stetina. He broke his right tibia and patella and five ribs in a crash with a metal post nearly 17 weeks ago at Vuelta al Pais Vasco.

Stetina said he was pleasantly surprised with his performance, which saw him stay in the peloton until the finishing circuits. He crossed the line 2:55 behind the stage winner, in 103rd place.

"I sat up on the rainy finishing circuits because that is not a finish for me and I wanted to be safe," Stetina said. "I think Mother Nature was really asking me if I wanted to come back and do this. She made it tough on us. Six hours of rain is no fun. But I was on such a high just to be on my bike that I was probably more OK with it than a lot of guys."

Sport Director Jackson Stewart said he admired the performance of both Phinney and Stetina.

"It was a good day - a really good day," Stewart said. "I know Taylor wanted to win, but we will take a podium result. It has got to be good for his morale.  With Pete, we really did not expect him to finish. So it was incredible to see him come over that last climb. The fighting he did was incredible."



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