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"When it’s cold and raining it’s hard for the guys to go super fast on those climbs, while I go at the same speed in all conditions," Phinney said. "But even then, I was hanging on for dear life at times."

Photo: Sirotti




06.04.2014 @ 06:16 Posted by Aleksandra Górska

It took four seasons in professional cycling for Taylor Phinney to finaly line up at the start of seasons second monument, the Ronde van Vlaanderen. Despite only 23 years of age, his debut in the Flemish classic may seem belated, since the American time trialist has been attentively observed as one of cycling’s rising stars for a long time, but bad timed injuries always disabled him to participate in a brutal affair on hellingen.


It was a close call for Phinney this time around as well, as the 23-year old American pulled out of Milano-Sanremo due to illness and his return to competition has been delayed several times – first announcements said he should have been ready for Dwars door Vlaanderen, to finaly make it back at the Gent-Wavelgem.


"I always had issues around it so I was never able to do it before now," Phinney told reporters in Kortrijk on Friday.


"It took a couple of more days than I anticipated to come back. I’d planned to be at E3 but I felt tired during the week and the team was lenient with me and let me recover and come back for Gent-Wevelgem," Phinney said. "I suffered a bit more than I wanted to, but that was to be expected after having a week when I was pretty knocked out."


The American rider acknowledges that the Paris-Roubaix route is currently way more suited to his characteristics and thus has made the Hell of the North his main objective for spring season, while in the Ronde van Vlaanderen he will try to get used to less steady kind of effort on cobbles while riding in a supporting capacity of Greg Van Avermaet, the BMC sole leader for Flemish classics.


"I’m aware that, physically, I’m more adept at a race like Paris-Roubaix right now, but I think the Tour of Flanders that can become more my speciality as I get older, leaner and have more race kilometres in my legs," he said.


"As well as that, positioning is even more important in Flanders than Roubaix, because three-quarters of the peloton knows where they are all the time whereas in Roubaix maybe the peloton hasn’t memorised the course as much."


Phinney points out that in his current state of physical development he is, as a splendid time trialist, more suited to generate a steady amount of power on such long distances but lacks an additional kick to stay with the toughest riders on Ronde van Vlaanderen punchy parcours, unless a bad weather conditions play in his favour.


"When it’s cold and raining it’s hard for the guys to go super fast on those climbs, while I go at the same speed in all conditions," he said. "But even then, I was hanging on for dear life at times. They’re really strange races in the sense that you go so far over your limit that you think the day is completely over but then you realise that everyone else around is feeling the same way and you just rebound and come back."


One of the biggest favorites to take the spoils in the Ronde van Vlaanderen today, Peter Sagan (Cannondale), seems to stand against all the rules so thoughtfully observed by Phinney, however, the BMC rider admits that the Slovak is one of his kind and hopes to follow the path of Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) than to measure himself against the this season’s E3 Harelbeke winner.


"I just hope that he gets tired of winning," he laughed, when asked if he was looking forward to locking horns with Sagan over the cobbles for the next decade or so. "I try not to compare myself to Peter Sagan because that is a very unrealistic comparison – he is one of a kind."


"He didn’t win his first major classic until he was 26, but he was always good at time trials and prologues," Phinney said. "This sport takes a long time for anyone to achieve what they want to achieve and somebody like Sagan is definitely an anomaly. He’s fun to watch and I hope that I can be there to help him not win as soon as I can, but I can’t force my body into anything. I’ll get to that point when I get to that point."



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