Taylor Phinney, working a break with Tom Boonen in...

Taylor Phinney gunning for time-trial win, race lead in California

The winner of Monday’s 20km time trial in Folsom will also wear the Amgen Tour of California race leader’s jersey.

SACRAMENTO (VN) — The winner of Monday’s 20km time trial in Folsom will also wear the Amgen Tour of California golden race leader’s jersey. It’s a fact that’s not been lost on BMC Racing’s Taylor Phinney.

The 23-year-old American heads into the time trial as a five-star favorite for the stage win, alongside Sky’s Bradley Wiggins.

Several other riders are also vying for a top result, including Chad Haga (Giant-Shimano), Tom Zirbel (Optum-Kelly Benefits), Lars Boom (Belkin), and Rohan Dennis (Garmin-Sharp).

“When I saw that there was a time trial on stage 2, and that it wasn’t a mountain time trial, I put that down as my goal, to win the stage. To take the jersey would be pretty cool,” Phinney said. “It is something I’ve been thinking about for a little while. Whenever you’re able to take the jersey, it changes things a bit, and makes a stage win even more important.”

A silver medalist at the 2012 world time trial championship, and fourth that year in the Olympic TT, Phinney has raced against the clock three times in 2014, winning at Dubai Tour, and finishing second at the Tour de San Luis; he was 13th at the Tour Méditerranéen on an 18km hilly, climber’s course.

Phinney previewed California’s out-and-back Folsom course on Friday.

“It’s nice,” he said. “I like it. I like a rolling time trial. It’s going to be really fast. It suits me pretty perfectly. If it were even shorter, that’d be better, but as it is, it gives Bradley a better chance.

“It’s going to go by really fast. It’s going to be hard to pace it; you’ll just need to go balls to the wall. Hopefully the wind doesn’t affect anything.”

During Monday’s stage 1, Phinney made it into a select echelon late in the race that included Wiggins, as well as Tom Boonen and Mark Cavendish of Omega Pharma-Quick Step. Once that move was neutralized, Phinney and Boonen briefly attacked, spending several kilometers off the front before the finishing circuits in Sacramento. He finished ninth on the stage, in the same time as Cavendish.

If Phinney were to take the race leader’s jersey, it would put BMC in a position to defend on stage 3, which ends atop Mount Diablo. Temperatures in the mid-90s are in the forecast for Tuesday’s stage. The team will then look to American Peter Stetina, its GC leader, to vie for overall victory.