Taylor Phinney didn’t collect a cobble, but learned much from a day on the pave

Phinney has won the under-23 edition of Paris-Roubaix, and he's not finished with the grown-up version yet

ROUBAIX, France (VN) — Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing) closed another Paris-Roubaix looking ahead. Despite missing the major move, he considered it an experience that will help him win one day.

“Yeah, for sure I’d love to [return to win], that’s my goal in my career, to win this race,” the 22-year-old said in the velodrome’s infield. “I think that it’s so long that it takes a little bit of [experience], a couple more grand tours, a couple more years.”

Sun shone on Phinney’s dust-covered face as other riders entered the velodrome to complete the 254.5km journey through northern France. Phinney beat them, placed 23rd, but wanted better, a podium place or perhaps even a win.

He won here twice before as an under-23 rider. Last year, in his pro debut, he placed 15th. Though, results-wise, it is a step backwards, Phinney is gaining much-needed experience.

“It’s not a disappointment in my eyes, it’s another learning experience,” team president Jim Ochowicz told VeloNews.

“One of the things that this was the first race we’ve done that’s been a real 260 kilometers, expect for last week in [the Tour of] Flanders, so it’s another hour for the riders, especially for the younger ones like Taylor.”

Phinney’s parents, Davis and Connie, stood nearby. Ochowicz was just as proud as they must have been.

“I’m not disappointed. It’s part of the learning curve, second race, second finish,” Ochowicz added. “He was eating and drinking, doing all the right stuff.”

‘Not really having it’

Phinney lit up the early hours of the Hell of the North by joining a powerful escape. Only 115km into the race, he rode with Geraint Thomas and Edvald Boasson Hagen (both Sky), John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano) and former winner Stuart O’Grady (Orica-GreenEDGE).

RadioShack controlled well for its leader and eventual winner, Fabian Cancellara. It refused to let the group get much air.

“I got a bit excited, after the first couple sectors there was a nice group with a few of us. I thought, this is a nice move, but it’s so far away from the finish. Maybe I was just too excited this morning,” Phinney said.

“We were trying to kinda activate the race. I was feeling good, I was up there, but there’s a lot to learn from this, that’s for sure.”

Phinney hit the front again in one of the most critical moments, leading the main group over the Arenberg sector. The move ensured he was out of danger and ready to play for the win.

He failed, however, to follow when the race exploded 50km later on the Mons-en-Pévèle sector.

“For sure it’s a bit of a disappointment, but I know that physically I’m in a lot better place than I was last year,” Phinney said. “I was a lot better in positioning, a lot more confident, it was kind of going above and beyond when I needed to, but just not really having it.”

Phinney talked for some time, happily sharing thoughts on his favorite race and soaking in the atmosphere of one of cycling’s most sacred grounds. It was clear, even without words, he wants to return to Roubaix’s velodrome as king of the cobbles.