What's Cool In Road Cycling

American Talent Taylor Phinney Gets PEZ’d!

After the BMC Team Presentation it was time for the interviews with the three “Top Men” of the team: The Boss, Cadel Evans, The Legend that is George Hincapie and first up was “Young Gun” Taylor Phinney of whom there is a lot expected from in the future.

Taylor Phinney may be very young (still only 20 years old), but he has done so much already; World and National Champion on the track as well as on the road in the time trial, not to mention winning the Under 23 Paris-Roubaix. Last year he rode for the Livestrong-Trek team, but instead of signing for RadioShack he went for the BMC Team, and then of course there are those famous parents; Connie Carpenter and Davis Phinney.

PEZ: You had many options at the end of last year why did you sign for BMC?
Taylor Phinney:
Well it made sense for me to come to BMC, I knew Jim Ochowicz through my dad and also the team Doctor; Max Testa, who is really a great guy and also a good friend to my family. Definitely it was a tough decision, there were some loyalties I felt to Lance and to Livestrong, but at the end of the day I had to do what was best for me. RadioShack could offer a 1 year contract and BMC can offer 2, 3, 4 years and with the Olympics in 2012 and my focus on the time trial or some track events, I wanted to make sure I would be riding the same bikes and also not worrying about contract issues. That’s what it came down to in the end. It made sense if I was going to go anywhere else it would be BMC. I spoke to Lance a couple of times and he has been quite supportive and in this position he would have done the same thing.

PEZ: What are your goals for the season?
Taylor:
For sure there will be a learning process, but I think in some races, like prologues and time trials, I’ve shown that in the past year I can be up there with the top guys. So really it’s an all new world for me, it’s a new chapter in my career, and in my life, and if I have a chance to go for the win; I’ll definitely do that! But I’m looking forward to putting some miles in on the front working for the team, and I know that the directors will give me my opportunity when it’s the right time.


Phinney is the U23 World TT Champion and American Elite TT Champion.

PEZ: Do you feel the pressure of expectation as the next great rider to come out of America?
Taylor:
Most of the pressure I feel comes from within myself and what I think I’m capable of, so outside pressure doesn’t affect me too much, it’s mostly my goals I’m trying to achieve. As to being the next big thing in American cycling, well, we have a lot of really good up and coming guys who sometimes are in the shadows, in the back ground: Tejay van Garderen had a huge year last year and Ben King won the U.S. National champs last year. So it’s not just me, there is a whole generation of American riders who are stepping up, and I’m just excited to play an important role in the next however many years and see how my career progresses. But no matter what, if I complete my goals, and if do what I set out to do, then I’m happy and that’s all that matters to me.


Taylor Phinney.


Davis Phinney.

PEZ: When will you start to focus on the Olympics?
Taylor:
Well that’s hard because of the individual pursuit being taken out and having the transition over to the omnium if I want to stay on the track. The omnium is not the event I have a passion for, like I do for pursuiting. It’s because the omnium is not controlled, the individual pursuit is 100% me, where as the omnium is six events, there are a lot of things that can go wrong, there is some luck involved.


The loss of the individual pursuit at the Olympics has seen Phinney’s promising career on the track curtailed.

So with my recent success in the time trials I’ve been contemplating going over to the road and focusing on the time trial and that’s something I’ll see this year if I can be competitive, I’m probably not going to do any track racing this year, maybe the World Championships, but it doesn’t factor in very well with the classic season. Right now I’m hoping to make it on the road and be a factor on the road in 2012, but I know if it comes down to it, I know the omnium is always there and if I really need to and have the passion for it I can go back to the track.

PEZ: There are a lot of good riders in the U.S. at the moment, but you seem to have been singled out for a lot of attention?
Taylor:
It’s a lot to do with my parents and the sort of pedigree they have and the way they were received by the media, back in their prime. So I do my best to put on my press face and make people happy and try to be a personality and that goes a long way in sport these days; trying to be down to earth, happy and smiling all the time. I don’t know why the press seem to take an interest in me, but it’s something I’m willing to undertake and it’s something that pushes me forward.

PEZ: How much has coming from your family helped?
Taylor:
Obviously genetically they have helped; they have combined into my DNA! But they have always been there. They have done a great job not putting too much pressure on me and let me figure out my own way in the sport. I played soccer when I was younger and my dad was really pushing me to go to practice and don’t worry about injuries and just be the best you can be, he knew I had learnt that lesson. I took that into cycling and my parents were more hands off and gave me support when I needed it. They didn’t sit me down and tell me what to do, it’s sort of like they are there, if I have any questions I need answering, but if I need to be pushed, I can work it out by myself on my own.

PEZ: Any disadvantages coming from a famous family?
Taylor:
When first starting out in cycling as a junior, it was a completely new world where I was already well known just because of my parents, I didn’t know how to take that. I was able to step that up to make a name for myself, as opposed to being just somebody’s son and that’s helped me out a lot.

PEZ: I was thinking of Axel Merckx, he has always had his dad above his head.
Taylor:
Yea, but he is the son of the greatest ever cyclist. My parents were good cyclists, but they weren’t the greatest cyclists ever, so…

PEZ: But they are very well known.
Taylor:
Yea they did their part for sure!

PEZ: What about the bikes?
Taylor:
I love these bikes! I’ve only been riding BMC for about a month now, but they really are amazing, I can’t wait to start racing on them.

PEZ: When is your first race?
Taylor:
The Tour of Qatar will be my first race (he couldn’t go due to a knee injury), then I’m between Paris-Nice or Tirreno-Adriatico, originally I wanted to do Paris-Nice because I thought there would be a prologue, but I don’t think there is going to be one this year unfortunately. And then hopefully I can make the classics team, doing races like Gent-Wevelgem, three days of De Panne and then hopefully Flanders and Roubaix. After that I go to the Tour of California, this is if I stay healthy and fit and everything and then the National championships. Beyond that we will make a decision, I know some of the bigger guys would like to see me at the Tour de France for that team time trial, but you know that is up to the sports directors and the guys who make the decisions on the team. Right now the main goal is to make the classics team, go to California, and win some national championships after that.


While Phinney had close ties with the RadioShack team, the lack of a guarantee for the future of the team was a major stumbling block.

PEZ: If you were to ride the Tour would it be to finish or to ride the first ten days?
Taylor:
We haven’t really talked about it that much. It has just been brought up in passing, sort of like a Christmas present that I can get excited about. I’m not too sure; I know that a 21 day race would definitely take it out of me.

PEZ: If you didn’t go to the Tour would you go to La Vuelta?
Taylor:
Right now, there is obviously the Tour of Colorado, which is pretty important to me, because I’m from Colorado and before that there is the Tour of Utah, at the moment I have both of those races on my schedule, then maybe the races in Canada, but the big goal for the end of the season is the World championships, both the time trial and the road race, because it is flattish. The season can change so much as there are so many variables that right now I have to focus on the first half and then reassess later.


Phinney on the U23 World Road Championship podium – tied for third with Guillaume Boivin. 1st and 3rd at the World Championships in Geelong? Wow.

PEZ: Is the thought of riding Flanders and Roubaix a little scary?
Taylor:
You know, with the team and the guys that we have; Ballan has won Flanders, George has come second in Roubaix and ridden it something like 15 times or something and Quinziato has been top 10 a bunch of times – I would really would be looking forward to those races and just being around those guys and seeing how they get in to a race, I’m sure by the time the race comes closer there will be some nerves, for sure, they are such long races, but I would try to take in every moment and will love to be there.

La Vuelta starts with a team time trial, which would fit in well with your Worlds preparation.
Taylor:
Yea, but I haven’t even thought of that. The good thing about the Tour is that the first week and a half or so is relatively flat, so if that was an option I would be honoured to be there.

***
Taylor Phinney; a nice young guy who knows what he wants and looks like he will more than probably get it, thanks for your time Taylor and we hope the knee is OK for those classics! Thanks also to Fitzalan Gorman of u.s. pro cycling news who knows how to use a voice recorder!

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