Vuelta a Espana

Phinney set for grand-tour debut with stage-hunting BMC

Taylor Phinney will be making his grand-tour debut with a BMC team looking to win stages and sneak into breakaways at the Vuelta a España.

2011 Eneco Tour stage 3:
Phinney held the leader's jersey for three days at the Eneco Tour

Taylor Phinney will be making his grand-tour debut with a BMC team looking to win stages and sneak into breakaways at the Vuelta a España.

With Tour de France champion Cadel Evans racing in Colorado, BMC will bring a team for its first Vuelta without a clear GC candidate. Instead, the team will be aiming to win stages and shake things up in attacks.

“We don’t have the same objective as we had at the Tour de France — like supporting one leader,” said BMC sport director John Lelangue in a team release. “This race is wide open for all the guys.”

The BMC Racing Team brings a number of potential stage winners to the three-week race that begins with a team time trial Saturday in Benidorm, Spain.

Greg Van Avermaet and Phinney will figure in the sprints while Mathias Frank, Ivan Santaromita and Johann Tschopp could also pursue general classification aspirations given the race’s six mountain finishes, Lelangue said.

Van Avermaet, winner of the Tour de Wallonie and runner-up at the Tour de Belgium, might also contend for the points jersey — a classification he won at the 2008 Vuelta

“We know he’s pretty good on the tough finishes and getting in breakaways,” Lelangue said.

Phinney, meanwhile, is hot off his first pro win at the Eneco Tour, where he won the prologue and scored five top-10 finishes en route to fourth overall.

“I’m looking forward to this race and I’m really excited to see what we can accomplish as a group,” the reigning U23 world time trial champion said. “We have the potential to have a good Vuelta and I hope to be able to contribute to that. I think this will be a good experience for me. Looking forward to the worlds, this is the best preparation that I can think of.”

BMC Racing Team for Vuelta a España: Mathias Frank (SUI), Martin Kohler (SUI), Karsten Kroon (NED), Taylor Phinney (USA), Manuel Quinziato (ITA), Mauro Santambrogio (ITA), Ivan Santaromita (ITA), Johann Tschopp (SUI), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL)