Race Report
BMC's Taylor Phinney continued his remarkable...

He’s back: Phinney wins Pro Challenge stage 1

He's back. Taylor Phinney takes a fairytale win in home state's USA Pro Challenge, sprinting to victory in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

With a stunning, long-range sprint victory in Steamboat Springs, it was clear: Taylor Phinney is back — and then some. BMC’s Phinney battled through a long recovery from a devastating 2014 injury, and on Monday, he proved his mettle in the USA Pro Challenge’s stage 1 sprint, blasting up the left side in the final few hundred meters to victory. Phinney’s winning sprint was set up by his teammate Rohan Dennis’ late-race heroics, which put the sprinters’ teams on the ropes. The UnitedHealtchare squad of sprinter Kiel Reijnen did all it could to set up the finale, but Reijnen had to settle for second place.

“It was special and emotional. It’s that electric moment we all live for,” Phinney, 25, said. “There’s a little dip in the road at 400 meters to go. I knew I didn’t have the pop but figured I’d diesel it through. I had a slight moment of panic that I was going to lose it, but I put my head down and pushed it through. I’ve had 15 months thinking about what it’d be like to put my hands up in the air.”

Top 10, stage 1

  • 1. Taylor PHINNEY, BMC RACING TEAM, in 3:39:07
  • 2. Kiel REIJNEN, UNITEDHEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL CYCLING TEAM, at :00
  • 3. Brent BOOKWALTER, BMC RACING TEAM, at :00
  • 4. Ryan ANDERSON, OPTUM P/B KELLY BENEFIT STRATEGIES, at :00
  • 5. Gavin MANNION, JELLY BELLY P/B MAXXIS, at :00
  • 6. Logan OWEN, AXEON CYCLING TEAM, at :00
  • 7. Julian David ARREDONDO MORENO, TREK FACTORY RACING, at :00
  • 8. Ivan ROVNY, TINKOFF – SAXO, at :00
  • 9. Toms SKUJINS, HINCAPIE RACING TEAM, at :00
  • 10. Damiano CARUSO, BMC RACING TEAM, at :00

 

Top-10 overall

  • 1. Taylor PHINNEY, BMC RACING TEAM, in 3:39:07
  • 2. Kiel REIJNEN, UNITEDHEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL CYCLING TEAM, at :00
  • 3. Brent BOOKWALTER, BMC RACING TEAM, at :00
  • 4. Ryan ANDERSON, OPTUM P/B KELLY BENEFIT STRATEGIES, at :00
  • 5. Gavin MANNION, JELLY BELLY P/B MAXXIS, at :00
  • 6. Logan OWEN, AXEON CYCLING TEAM, at :00
  • 7. Julian David ARREDONDO MORENO, TREK FACTORY RACING, at :00
  • 8. Ivan ROVNY, TINKOFF – SAXO, at :00
  • 9. Toms SKUJINS, HINCAPIE RACING TEAM, at :00
  • 10. Damiano CARUSO, BMC RACING TEAM, at :00

 

The early breakaway included Jonny Clarke (UnitedHealthcare), Guillaume Boivin (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies), Emerson Oronte (Team SmartStop), Carson Miller (Jamis-Hagens Berman), Michael Torckler (Budget Forklifts), Jordan Kirby (Drapac), and James Oran (Axeon).

As the race neared the final 20 miles, Oram and Kirby were dropped, and the breakaway’s lead had fallen to under one minute. Soon, Miller attacked as the rest of the breakaway riders were caught. The race quickly reshuffled, and a new chase group formed off the front of the peloton, a group of nine.

With 17.5 miles left, Miller’s 15 second lead has evaporated; the greatly reduced peloton caught him, as well as the break.

Boivin went on attack again, getting into a move with Dennis with less than 10 miles left. Inside of five miles to go, the gap was out to 25 seconds.

As the race passed under the final kilometer, the two leaders were caught, thanks to a great deal of work by UnitedHealthcare.

A rider from the Drapac squad hit out with a solo attack early in the finale. The blue and white of UnitedHealthcare went back to the front, but Phinney blasted up the right side with a head of steam, winning by several bike lengths ahead of Reijnen. Brent Bookwalter (BMC) rounded out the podium in third.

“You saw lot of guys on the limit, our team included,” said Reijnen. “When Rohan [Dennis] went, that was definitely a dangerous move. You could see it cost us a lot to bring him back.

“It made for a disorganized finale. We had everything mostly under control until the last 300 meters. When the sprint started on the right, I went onto Brent’s [Bookwalter] wheel because I figured they were sprinting for him. I didn’t expect him to let Taylor [Phinney] go. Good on them — it was really good tactics in the final.”

Tuesday’s stage should offer a very different ending, with a summit finish, above 10,500 feet, at Arapahoe Basin after 115 miles of racing. Along the way, the race will feature two other king of the mountains tests: Rabbit Ears Pass and Ute Pass.

“I am not a climber,” said Phinney. “I can survive some climbs. But climbing isn’t my cup of tea. Our focus is to work for the GC guys. I’ll prance around in yellow for a bit, but we’re here for them.”