Taylor Phinney plans ambitious program in pro debut

Taylor Phinney plans to tackle the spring classics and the Tour of California in his pro debut, but BMC promises no pressure, saying it's all about gaining experience.

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Taylor Phinney will jump headlong into the pro ranks in 2011 with an ambitious racing program that will include the spring classics and the Tour of California, but BMC brass say there will no pressure on the promising American talent.

Phinney, 20, will enter the professional waters with gusto, with a season debut at the Tour of Qatar followed by likely starts in Paris-Nice, the spring classics, the California tour and the U.S. national championships.

“This season will be all about getting experience,” said BMC sport director John Lelangue in a team release Sunday. “There will be no pressure. The other guys on the team are happy to help develop him.”

Phinney’s rookie season will be one of the most highly anticipated in a generation. He already boasts an impressive palmares for a rider who cannot legally buy a drink in his home state of Colorado, with a strong mix of impressive results in the elite, U23 and junior ranks, on the track and the road.

The son of American cycling greats Connie Carpenter and Davis Phinney, he has won back-to-back U23 Paris-Roubaix titles, the prologue at the Tour de l’Avenir, and two elite world pursuit titles. He also is the defending U23 world time trial champion.

Despite high expectations, BMC leadership insists that Phinney, who rode as a stagiaire with RadioShack at the end of the 2010 season, will not be under pressure to perform in his first full season in the professional ranks.

“For Taylor, it will be about understanding how the pro peloton races and what some of the nuances are around a pro team,” said BMC manager Jim Ochowicz in the team release. “Obviously, the rookie year for him will be a lot of new territory. We want to get him the experience he needs, but not where it’s going to cost him down the road.”

Phinney says he’s excited about his new challenges and hopes that he can help usher a new generation of U.S. fans into the sport.

“I’m always trying to bring new people into the sport,” Phinney said. “Whether it means people are following me in the classics or if I’m going for prologues or time trials, it’s not really about highlighting one certain type of race but highlighting the sport in general. I’m looking forward to being up there with the next big generation. Hopefully I can do my part.”

Phinney will join his BMC teammates for a team training camp in Spain later this month.

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