• Taylor Phinney at stage 1 start at the 2016 Tour of Britain (Getty)Source: Getty
American Taylor Phinney not only has a fabulous moustache, he's finally got his mojo back and hopes to use it at Cannondale-Drapac next season.
By
Cycling Central

Source:
Cannondale-Drapac
28 Sep 2016 - 8:51 AM  UPDATED 28 Sep 2016 - 8:56 AM

It's been a tough couple of years for American Taylor Phinney after a horror crash avoiding a motorbike at the US nationals in 2014. 

During this time, the talented 26-year-old often thought of leaving the sport.

"I’ve been putting a lot of energy into recovering from this ultra-broken leg (from 2014). And BMC supported me through that whole process, and I’m really grateful to them for that.

"But I’ve changed the way I see things, the way that I approach things, the way that I appreciate things.

"I really feel like recently I’m coming into this vast, general acceptance of exactly who I am. And not feeling self-conscious about embracing who I am. I find that by sharing that and just being true to yourself you can inspire other people and unite a group around a certain cause.

"Once the idea came into my mind of making a big change in my career, trying something new, trying a different environment, it was just something that felt really right to me.”

 

It is a 'homecoming' of sorts for Colorado native Phinney who started his career with Johanathan Vaughters' Boulder based Slipstream Sports development team. 

“This opportunity presented itself to bring my career into a full circle in one way. It definitely feels like a fresh new start, which I’m excited about,” he said. 

“I have some close friends that race for the team. And it just generally seems like the team itself has a good vibe. I also met with [Vaughters] earlier this year and really connected.

But not everything is about zen or returning 'home'. 

“I just want to win. Because that’s what it’s all about," he said. 

"I feel like I just got back to a point with my body that I’m able to think about goals and not just think about surviving these races. And that’s powerful. 

"It’s easy to set goals. Yeah, Roubaix, Tour de France. Because everybody says that.

But I want to get that hunger back, that fire, that real commitment to what I’m doing — that fully engaged, intentional, every-second-of-the-race, you’re in it.

"But if I think about the coolest thing I could do next year it would be to win the opening time trial at the Tour de France. To race the Tour de France. Because I’ve never done it.”

Current manager of Cannondale-Drapac Vaughters said he was impressed by the way Phinney has fought back from his injuries. 

"I've always believed he was an absolutely unbelievable talent. My concern for him was that it came too easily for him. That he was so talented that he never really had to learn from the school of hard knocks of bike racing. And I always felt like that was going to limit his career,” Vaughters said.

“So the crash in 2014, the massive injury that occurred after that, was to me the sort of testing point to see if Taylor really wanted to be a professional cyclist or whether or not he was content with his first glory years in the sport.

"Whether he truly, really, wanted it. Not, ‘I want to do this because of my family’s heritage,’ or ‘I want to do this because I don’t have anything better to do,’ or ‘I want to do this because I get paid a lot.'

“In speaking with him over the summer, I got the impression he did want to be a bike racer.

"The last eight months hasn’t been so much being held back by the injury itself, it’s been the two years of not having consistent racing and training because he had to be rehabbing this injury." 

Vaughters said Phinney will focus on the northern classics and time trials.

“As far as the northern classics, (new signing) Sep (Vanmarcke) is our number one guy," said Vaughters. "Dylan Van Baarle is the chief lieutenant."

"So Taylor fits into a little bit more of a support rider, wildcard role in the classics.

"He’s a little less proven — 260k races, it takes a little longer to fully adapt to those until you’ve done multiple grand tours and have more of a foundation, which he doesn’t really have right now because of his injury.

"I fully expect him to be in the final 20, 25 rider selection in the classics. Without a doubt. That’s the number goal for the first part of the year. And the Dusseldorf time trial."

Phinney's achievements include wearing the maglia rosa, stage wins at the Eneco Tour, USA Pro Cycling Challenge and the Tour of Poland, and the overall at the Dubai Tour (2014). Phinney also claimed time trial silver at the 2012 UCI Road World Championships.