DOHA (VN) — Taylor Phinney and BMC Racing saw to Brent Bookwalter enjoying another golden day in the Tour of Qatar on Monday. The American squad won the team time trial over Sky by five seconds and strengthened Bookwalter’s lead heading into day three.
“It was an incredible effort by the team; I don’t even know what to say,” Bookwalter told VeloNews following the 14-kilometer run just west of Doha. “Taylor was like a motor the whole last K. I just… I was hoping he could hold the speed because there was no way I could come around and contribute more.”
BMC finished with the required five men on the wind-swept road in Al Rufaa. Larry Warbasse, Steve Cummings, and Yannick Eijssen pulled off in the last two kilometers after seeing to the team’s win.
Bookwalter also won the opening stage, and collected bonus seconds, on Sunday (http://goo.gl/L4VPK). He now leads his teammates in the overall classification, with Phinney in second at six seconds and Adam Blythe third at 10 seconds.
Phinney, a former U23 TT world champ, motored through the final kilometers and carried the weight of the team on his shoulders.
On the start line, the tall American sang and joked to break the tension surrounding Bookwalter in the leader’s jersey.
“It’s kind of my thing, team time trialing,” Phinney said. “I like step into a leadership role … It just kind of feels normal to step into that role even if Brent is the one with the leader’s jersey now. I’m the one with a little bit more team time trial experience. I can be upbeat and fun, keep it relaxed and happy, and at the same time motivate people.”
The eight-man squad trained specifically for the second leg of the Tour of Qatar, an out-and-back run in the desert. While other teams were in Argentina or Australia racing in January, Phinney and company got down to business at a Spanish training camp. They did specific TTT efforts on road bikes, which the teams were required to use in Qatar.
“I just made sure to remind the guys what we put into this,” said Phinney. “A lot of teams come here with a new combination of riders and they work on their team TT skills maybe the day before or the day of the race. We’ve been working on it for weeks and really pinpointing … You can see, just being able to rotate smoothly as a unit makes a difference.
“It’s always nice when you work for something and it comes to fruition.”
Phinney debuted in Qatar three years ago with the Trek-Livestrong development team. They finished last. This edition has been quite the turn around for Phinney, who helped Bookwalter protect the gold jersey.
“We are going to try to keep this jersey on Brent’s shoulders for as long as possible. Adam [Blythe] and I will be up there in the sprints. If it were up to me, and if it were up to Brent, I think we’d hope for some more windy stages. It doesn’t exactly look like its going to be that way, but even with a 10K side wind, you can do some damage. Especially out here in the desert.”
They face four more stages crisscrossing the gulf state. On Tuesday, the race travels 143km to Masaied in the country’s southeast.
“The overall,” added Phinney, “is definitely is plausible and it’s something we want to achieve.”