Phinney surprises himself working up to worlds TTT form

After a long recovery from his 2014 crash, Taylor Phinney will help BMC Racing defend a world title in the team time trial Sunday

RICHMOND, Va. (AFP) — During his long recovery from a career-threatening 2014 crash, there was a time when it was unclear whether Taylor Phinney would be able to race in 2015. But after returning to competition in August at the Tour of Utah, Phinney will line up with BMC Racing on Sunday for the team time trial world championship.

The 25-year-old son of 1984 Olympic road race champion Connie Carpenter and former pro cyclist Davis Phinney will ride on defending champion BMC’s six-man squad over the 38.8km course in Richmond, Virginia.

Phinney was hurt 16 months ago in a crash during a descent at the U.S. road race championship, suffering a major left knee injury, a compound left tibia fracture, and a severed tendon.

He began his comeback last month at the Tour of Utah and followed that up with a win in the first stage of the USA Pro Challenge, and then proved himself in form in training with BMC.

“I’m happy that I was able to make the team,” Phinney said. “I feel like I can contribute in a way that I was able to contribute before my accident, which is saying a lot.

“To be honest, I did not even think I was going to have the ability to make this team a couple of months ago. Then I started racing and started doing well and exceeded most of my expectations.”

That spurred Phinney to work towards the form required to chase a title in the world championships, being held on U.S. soil for the first time in 29 years.

“I went to Belgium and rode with the guys and surprised myself and I think I surprised the management as well,” Phinney said. “It was on my radar, but something I was not getting my hopes up for because it is such an intense effort. I did not think my knee and my body could handle it.”

Phinney will ride alongside four members of last year’s title-winning squad — Australia’s Rohan Dennis, Switzerland’s Silvan Dillier, and Italians Daniel Oss and Manuel Quinziato — as well as Switzerland’s Stefan Kung, the reigning world champion in the individual pursuit on the track.

Dennis said it will be important to set aside worries about others and focus on the task at hand.

“Time trials are sort of my specialty, but I still get nervous,” Dennis said. “There are no tactics. You just hope the preparation you have done is the best and that you win on the day.”