Mission possible for Phinney?

May 23, 2014
Category: Races  Stage 2  Stage 5 

It’s never been done before, but that doesn’t stop Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing) from openly stating his intentions to become the first American male to win the U.S. National Championship Time Trial and Road Race in the same year. Two years ago, the two-time Olympian placed 4th in both the London Olympics Time Trial and Road Race, and we saw last week at the Amgen Tour of California that the 2010 American Time Trial champ is on fantastic form heading into this weekend’s 2014 Volkswagen USA Cycling Professional  Road and Time Trial Championships in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Today we preview Saturday’s time trial.

Phinney was disappointed with his third place finish at the Amgen Tour of California Stage 2 Folsom Time Trial. "It was not my best ride. I wasn't feeling amazing the whole time,” he said after the 12.4 mile test. “It was an interesting distance. It's not as aerobic as a longer, 40- or 50-minute time trial and not as anaerobic as a prologue. So it was kind of an interesting distance to wrap your head around."

The 23-year-old will be pleased that the Chattanooga course is longer yet just as flat, ideally suiting the BMC Racing rider’s skillset. The 19-mile course is two out and backs on rolling terrain adjacent to the Volkswagen facility.  

Reigning U.S. National Time Trial champion Tom Zirbel (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) was disappointed with his 11th place time trial result in California and he left the race sick two days later. Sent home to recover to get ready for his title defense, 35-year-old Zirbel, a second place finisher three times before winning the national championship last year, is Phinney’s greatest obstacle in the time trail.     

After attacking at the top of San Marcos Pass on Stage 5 of the Amgen Tour of California and brazenly rocketing down the descent, Phinney time trialed the final 26kms into Santa Barbara solo to win only his second professional road race. The eight-day, 720-mile stage race no doubt provided excellent training to help Phinney prepare for his mission to win double stars & stripes jerseys. If he can pull it off, it will certainly be a memorable Memorial Day Weekend for the Boulder, Colorado native.