-by Betsy Baker
USCR's Betsy Baker Gets Some Insight pre-Paris-Roubaix from BMC Racing Team's Taylor Phinney
I had the opportunity to pose some questions to Taylor Phinney, the young American phenom who is riding with BMC Racing Team here at Paris-Roubaix. I presented some questions and he responded to them, which did not give me the opportunity to follow up on some of the thoughts presented by him at this time. I intend to pursue further some of the interesting tidbits of this son of the legendary sprinter Davis Phinney and gold medalist Connie Carpenter-Phinney. In the meantime, I am going to be cheering him along in his first outing as a pro cyclist in the “Hell of the North” Paris-Roubaix. After walking just a section of the pave, albeit the famous Arenberg, anybody who could be excited about racing that far and that long is tops in my book.
Betsy Baker (USCR): Taylor, what are your thoughts on racing Paris-Roubaix? Will this be an attempt to be competitive or rather an attempt to finish or even combine them and look for a good placement?
Taylor Phinney (TP): Well, I am quite excited as this is my favorite race. It has always been my favorite race. I always loved to watch it on television and loved to race it as a Junior and an Under 23 as it was always a race that suited me. I am super excited, especially with the guys that we (BMC) have here. I am really pumped to do my job and be up there and prove my worth.
USCR: Will this be an attempt to be competitive or rather an attempt to finish or even combine them and look for a good placement?
TP: Well for me, in my race, the result sheet is not the most important thing at the end of the day. We are trying to get a BMC rider on the top step of the podium. If I am up there and I am helping the guys, then I definitely think I will be up there in the final, but the main thing is to get Thor (Hushovd), (Alessandro) Ballan or George (Hincapie) up for the win. For me, that is the result I want to see.
USCR: Does you feel your physique lends itself to the cobbled Classics or rather are you more suited to the races without the jarring ride?
TP: Paris-Roubaix is the absolute perfect race for me, as someone who weighs substantially more than other people in the peloton. Having absolutely no hills, a completely flat parcours is absolutely perfect for me. I get a power to weight redemption on everybody in all of the other races of the year and also, I just have a lot of fun on the cobbles. I know that sounds strange, but it is the absolute truth.
USCR: How does the recent crash of Fabian Cancellara play into your mind, if at all?
TP: Cancellara has been a big hero of mine since I started racing. I see the way that my career is coming along being influenced by my trying to emulate his style of riding. For me to see him crash, even though he is on another team, he is one of the bigger favorites that we would be marking. However, as a bike racer, you never want to see someone like him go down so I was sorry for that but it won’t change our tactics tomorrow in the race. We are still here to win the race and try to do that the best we can.
USCR: It is after all, an Olympic year and I would imagine you have plans for the London Games.
TP: The main goal is to make both the Road Race and the Time Trial. It is going to be hotly contested to try and make both teams. Racing in races like Paris-Roubaix are important for me and hopefully in my selection and I am hoping to prove my worth. The Olympics are the most important sporting event in the World and I was lucky enough to do them in 2008 and am hoping to go back this time in 2012.
USCR: Do you feel that your youth works in your favor or are you at a disadvantage in the World Tour races?
TP: I think that my youth can help me in the way that I am sort of young and excited. It is Paris-Roubaix so if it snows, rains, sunny or dusty, I don’t really care because this is my first one and I am excited to be here. I might not have the amount of experience as someone like George (Hincapie) does, who is doing what his 16th race? I do know the course really well from racing it as a Junior and Under 23 so am familiar with all of the sections of pave. I am young but I do have some experience in this race for sure.
USCR: Any concerns that you could be rushing your talent, which is prodigious, or is your trajectory being monitored closely? If so, by who?
TP: Yes, I think that with the team that we have, my director that I communicate with on a daily basis and live about 200 meters away from, is Max Sciandri. He has been really important in my development and been the guy that I have been talking to the most when talking to the staff. I have a lot of trust in Max and the team trusts Max. So for me, when I look at my trajectory as a bike rider, I think that I am on a good path. I experienced a couple of setbacks last year but by no means had a bad year for a first year. This next year I have definitely still made a couple of mistakes but I feel like that I am in a really good place both physically and mentally and I am moving forward. I am constantly learning and that is the most important thing in your first few years. You see some riders who come right out of the blocks and they are up there but I am not that guy who comes out and does that. I know what my talent is and my team has faith in my talent as well. So I am just kind of learning as much as I can and soaking everything in and trying to enjoy the ride as well. Loving what you do is the most important thing and I am really enjoying this year as it has come. I have some big goals this year and Paris-Roubaix is definitely one of them tomorrow.
USCR: Back to tomorrow's race. Rain or dry for Sunday? Which would suit you better?
TP: Like I said earlier, I am young and excited either way. Probably prefer it to be dry because it is safer that way but if it is wet, then it is even more epic. For me, Paris-Roubaix is Paris-Roubaix, rain, snow, dry, anything. It is going to be a great race. An epic race and I am excited to be a part of it.
USCR: Will your fans in America have any chance of seeing you race in California or Colorado this year with the squad?
TP: I am doing the Giro in May so I will not be in California but I am really hoping that I get to ride in Colorado. One of the stages finishes in Boulder which is my hometown. It is a mountain-top finish, which is not exactly “Taylor”made, but it would be great to race in my home state, in my backyard. So no California but hopefully Colorado.
USCR: If you had a choice or say so in the decision, which American race would be your preference and why?
TP: I didn’t do Colorado last year so I cannot give an exact answer but since Colorado is my home base, it is definitely a race that I would have more passion, more motivation for but at the same time, California has been around a lot longer. I think the climbs in Colorado suit me better than the climbs in California so I would say Colorado at this point in time even though I haven’t raced it.
USCR would like to thank Taylor for his time and wish him a most EPIC race in Paris-Roubaix tomorrow and may it meet or exceed all of his expectations! We shall be standing alongside the pave cheering him on! Best of Luck To You Taylor!