The American is back in action Wednesday in the Dwars door Vlaanderen. The race sets him up for the big cobbled monuments: the Tour of Flanders on Sunday and Paris-Roubaix a week later, April 14.
“I had some knee problems last week so yesterday was the first day I didn’t feel any pain we’ll see how today goes. Hoping for the best,” Phinney told VeloNews.
He was unsure how it began exactly. “I don’t know, just big power, just big body,” he said. “If I knew, then I wouldn’t have any problems.”
The right knee soreness forced him to miss the E3 BinckBank Classic and Gent-Wevelgem in the last week. In the last minute, when the pain passed, the team put him on its roster for Wednesday’s Dwars door Vlaanderen.
Phinney does not see any risk in racing now.
“I don’t think so. It’s something that came on really fast. I’ve been doing therapy for a week, sleeping a lot, doing the rehab thing, I’m pretty used to that,” he continued.
“I’ll see how it goes today and I’m hoping for the best. If it hurts, I’m out and that’ll put Sunday in jeopardy.”
The Tour of Flanders is already in jeopardy for his team’s classics leader Sep Vanmarcke, who crashed and ended up in a ditch in the E3 BinckBank Classic on Friday. He injured his knee too. The team could end up riding for Sebastian Langeveld, who was third in Paris-Roubaix 2017.
“Langeveld has been our best performing rider throughout the classics so we have a great vibe in the group, we feel good,” Phinney said.
“Obviously we want to have Sep around, he’s our man, but if he can’t be around then that’s just how it is. I know how that is. It sucks because he’s been working super hard just for this weekend but that’s how these races go, unfortunately.”
Phinney broke his left leg at the U.S. Pro road nationals in 2014. He returned to racing, and last year he placed eighth in Paris-Roubaix. With two wins in the under-23 version, the race is dear to him.
“I’m all eyes on Roubaix, that’s my ticket,” he added. “I had a bit of a hiccup last week, didn’t get those races in. I didn’t really mind missing them, they are super stressful and dangerous. … I’m here today. I’m taking it one day at a time, all those clichés.”
He began 2019 with a team time trial win in the Tour Colombia and raced the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and the Tirreno-Adriatico stage race. He stopped short in the De Panne one-day race a week ago. Now, after missing two races, he is enjoying being back on the cobbles.
“Yeah, always,” he said. “It’s super stressful, dangerous, scary, but all the races are like that now. At least these races are good for me.”