Come 2019 Taylor Phinney will be crushing cobbles at the Spring Classics with EF Pro Cycling as he will return to the team next season. As Phinney eases into his off-season we chat about the drama of the Hell of the North, how the Tour de France is like playing Call of Duty, and superpowers.
Take us through this year, what’s been the highs and lows?
From a professional standpoint the highlight of my year was definitely Paris-Roubaix and being a factor in that race. I’ve wanted to be up there and wanted to be riding with those guys for my whole career, so it was cool to have the stars align for that one and have a good day.
I always enjoy the Tour de France and finishing always feels good, although this time wasn’t so great finishing with a broken face, so I didn’t have as much energy to celebrate. I had to go to visit the doctor the next day, but I don’t even think that was a low point; there haven’t really been any.
Why do you like Paris-Roubaix so much?
I think I always had a strong passion towards Paris-Roubaix, there’s just something about that race. There’s a level of drama it has that doesn’t exist in any other race on the calendar. It was always the race that I looked forward to watching before I started racing it. I mean the races in Belgium are part of the same family and they fit into the same category but in my eyes they’re just not on the same level as Paris-Roubaix.
But if you talk to Italians or Belgians, Tour of Flanders is the be-all-and-end all and Paris-Roubaix is just an afterthought for whatever reason. But Paris-Roubaix is the jam and I think it’s sort of the last type of race that I can be good at. In this sport you see the trend of the races are changing and getting harder and hillier and more suited to smaller riders. So we kind of have these last races to hang onto to hope to do well at, for me that’s Paris-Roubaix. It’s the one race I do all year which I’m not at a weight disadvantage, because I just weigh a lot more than everybody else being 6 ft 5.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen in the peloton this year?
Probably the Tour de France tear gas day, that was the craziest thing. Yeah, that was a trip, I felt like I was in a video game. It was like I was playing Call of Duty or something, because you went through this protest they broke up and then all of a sudden you’re like, ‘I can’t breathe’ and then you’re having trouble seeing and everyone else is coughing around you. The old alarm bells start to ring in your head, you’re like: “What the hell is happening?”
You’ve extended with the team. How have you found riding for EF Pro Cycling this year?
I mean I love it, there’s no other team that I could envision myself racing for in the professional peloton. I feel like I can be honest with everyone around me and myself, and there’s not a ton of expectations thrown on you, on what you need to be and what you need to look like, and how you need to act. They just let you explore yourself and let you be who you want to be.
The team obviously want to win races and do well and that’s a priority, but there’s not this cookie cutter that you need to be a certain way or ride your bike a certain to be on the team, which you’ll find on a lot of other programmes.
When you heard about some of the new, offbeat races the team will line up for next year, what did you think?
I think that it is the greatest thing ever. I mean when we were first hearing little rumours about the change and that Rapha wanted to come on board, it felt like all these different ideas that I had been talking about with friends, all these adventures I had been thinking about, it was like someone had read my mind.
If you were able to shotgun a race next year, which one would it be?
Dirty Kanza! I would really like to do Dirty Kanza.
Describe EF Pro Cycling team in one word…
If you could have any superpower what would it be?
There’s a lot of responsibility in that question. I mean, my gut instinct is to say I’d like to fly but that is kinda selfish. Actually I think I’d like to be like the moon and manipulate the tides. I’m not sure what I would be able to do with that but I’m sure I’d be able to figure something out.
It doesn’t have to just be the sea, it could be water in general…
Yeah, because inside your body is 70% water, if I could manipulate that, you know how weird I could make people feel all the time, it would be dope. I think I actually just created a new superhero [still to be named].
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Cobbles season continues on Friday as Flanders Classic week opens with E3 Harelbeke. The race sees the peloton barrel into a block of racing up the hellingen of Belgium and over the pavé of northern France.
The EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale team sends a hearty roster to the northern classics of Belgium, with the aim of supporting Sep Vanmarcke and responding to the turmoil of the cobbles. Vanmarcke has already proven his mettle this season with a strong ride for third place at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.
Joining Vanmarcke at E3 are Matti Breschel, Mitch Docker, Sebastian Langeveld, Taylor Phinney, Tom Scully, and Tom Van Asbroeck. Sunday’s Gent-Wevelgem sees a slight change, as Sacha Modolo and Dan McLay replace Docker and Van Asbroeck.
“E3 is a hard and honest race,” said Vanmarcke. “The many hills on a short period make it very hard. The distance from those sections until the finish is still 30-40km, so it’s not easy for attacking on the hills and staying in front. That’s where it gets interesting for sprinters as well. If they can survive, they still have a chance to come back.
“It’s one week before the Tour of Flanders, so you have to be strong in E3,” Vanmarcke added. “The opening weekend was good. Everybody did his job. There is always space for improving, but also, the condition of everybody should be on its best by now, so that should give the extra we need.”
Vanmarcke recently raced Tirreno-Adriatico. He’s spent the last week at home in Anzegem, a few kilometers from the Tour of Flanders course.
It has become somewhat of a #GreenArgyle Grand Tour tradition to collect rider reactions from every Cannondale-Drapac rider that makes it to the finish of a three-week tour. Typically these comments are shaped by individual experiences and allow us to share some of the lesser-told stories of a race.
When we asked our Tour de France nine to share their stand-out memories and the things they will carry with them when they head home from Paris, their comments were distinctively different than those we’ve become accustomed to hearing.
This is a group that arrived in Dusseldörf ready to attack and animate the race, take whatever opportunities they could seize. They did exactly that during the first week.
Taylor Phinney nearly held off the peloton in the stage two finale. Caught in the final kilometer following five hours up the road, he came away with the polka dot jersey.
Nate Brown got in the breakaway the next day and scored enough mountain points to keep the polka dot jersey within the team.
Alberto Bettiol finished in fifth place on stage three in a technical finish won by Peter Sagan (BORA – hansgrohe). Michael Matthews (Sunweb) and Dan Martin (Quick-Step Floors) rounded out the stage podium.
Dylan van Baarle spent several days in the first week on the escape. He earned most aggressive on stage seven, sporting the award’s distinctive red numbers on stage eight.
Then Rigoberto Uran won stage nine of the Tour de France, jumping up to fourth overall and announcing himself as a general classification contender. And suddenly the target shifted shape.
Cannondale-Drapac spent the final two weeks of the Tour de France largely at the service of their leader – a leader who went on to finish second overall, the best general classification result in Slipstream Sports Tour history.
The team’s comments in Paris reflect this shift, this accomplishment, this experience of rallying around Uran. In Paris the personal took a back seat to the collective.
Das BMC Racing Team gab seinen Kader für das Jahr 2015 am Mittwoch offiziell bekannt und verkündigte zugleich, dass Rohan Dennis im Februar einen Anlauf auf den Stundenweltrekord nehmen wird.