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Phinney’s plans murky ahead of Roubaix

Taylor Phinney wants to return to Paris-Roubaix this spring, but he isn't guaranteed a spot, and his leg is still not 100 percent.

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POMARANCE, Italy (VN) — American Taylor Phinney plans on returning to next month’s Paris-Roubaix for the first time in two years, after his injury in 2014. Out of all the classics, the Hell of the North is a priority, but he must carefully mind his recovery, and the former U.S. TT champ admits, “I’m not really sure.”

Phinney stepped off the red and black BMC team bus Thursday morning to sunny Tuscan skies at the Tirreno-Adriatico stage race. The event marks his first WorldTour race since breaking his left leg in the U.S. championships, May 26, 2014. It was a big step for him to race Tirreno-Adriatico since, at one point, he did not even know if he would return to competition.

He is progressing well, though. He returned in late summer 2015, won a stage of the USA Pro Challenge, helped BMC win the time trial world championship title and completed 261.4 kilometers in the worlds road race. His next step is to return to the race he won twice as an under-23 cyclist.

“Game plan for the classics? At least Roubaix, for sure,” Phinney told VeloNews. “For sure, I’d like to do that, but I had some troubles last week in France in Haut Var, and it took a solid week of extensive therapy to come back from that, which put a bit of stint in the confidence going into these races, but I knew it was going to be a struggle anyway. Yes, if all goes well, I should do Roubaix. But I’m not really sure. I’m not really sure about anything.”

BMC Racing is working extensively toward Phinney’s full recovery. The goal would be to get the 25-year-old back into some of the cobbled classics this spring and perhaps racing for the pink jersey in the opening day of the Giro d’Italia. Nothing is certain, though.

The American team will only confirm its eight-man Roubaix roster one week before, after the dust settles from the Tour of Flanders. Phinney could slot in with Greg Van Avermaet, Daniel Oss, Marcus Burghardt, and Jempy Drucker. Phinney raced three editions so far, finishing as high as 15th in his first outing in 2012.

However, to be ready for the race in one month, Phinney has work to do. He needs “a lot of therapy each day” simply to make sure his knee stays healthy.

“I’m definitely stronger physically [than before], but I suffer on my left side when I get into the last hour of a really difficult European race. I need to strengthen myself leg little more, but I’m capable of racing,” Phinney added.

“I’ve done the worlds, that was six hours, but it was a bit of a struggle to get the left leg over. It was a good race and a good showing, but my left side just fatigues more than the right side. That’s the only real test that I’ve had. I’m building to the classics, but I need to keep expectations at a reasonable level.”

Those expectations may have increased after Phinney helped BMC Racing power to the team time trial victory in the opening day of Tirreno-Adriatico on Wednesday. Thanks to his effort, Oss wore the blue leader’s jersey Thursday and Tejay van Garderen was well-positioned for a run at the overall title.

An American in France

What’s it like to be an American cyclist living in France? Watch to get professional road cyclist Joe Dombrowski’s view.