ROARING RIVER — A lot has changed for Taylor Phinney over the past two years, but as he showed Friday morning at the USA Cycling Professional Time Trial National Championship, a lot has also stayed the same.
Almost two years to the day of suffering a compound fracture in his left leg as a result of a crash during the Road Race National Championship on May 26, 2014, Phinney returned to the National Championships and won the 49-kilometer time trial in 1 hour, 2 minutes and 46 seconds.
A 25-year old Colorado native, Phinney also won the Time Trial National Championship in 2014, just two days before suffering the broken leg that kept him out of professional cycling for more than 14 months.
“I was pretty focused on just getting my general mobility back,” Phinney said of the past two years. “I wasn’t really thinking about the National Championships or trying to come back here and win.”
Not only did Phinney, who races for BMC Racing Team, win, but he beat his closest competition by more than a full minute.
Thomas Zirbel of Rally Cycling finished in second place with a time of 1:03:55, while Team LottoNL Jumbo’s Alexey Vermeulen came in at 1:03:58, which was strong enough for third place.
As a result of the victory, Phinney positioned himself nicely to be considered one of the favorites to be one of only two Americans that will represent the United States in Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Summer Olympics.
USA Cycling will submit its nominations to the U.S. Olympic Committee on June 24 — a short list Phinney hopes to see his name on after finishing fourth in both the road race and time trial at the 2012 Olympics.
“This puts me in the best position I could have put myself in to go into Rio, and that’s all I really wanted to do here,” Phinney said.
Now a three-time time trial national champion, Phinney said he spent an hour and half immediately following the race lying on the ground dealing with intense cramps throughout the left side of his body.
“Any time you are doing an hour time-trial, it is definitely a journey,” Phinney said. “The joy of victory hasn’t quite set in yet, because I’m still deep in the pain cave.”
As for Saturday’s Road Race National Championship that will start and finish at the intersection of W 4th St. and Poplar St. in downtown Winston-Salem Saturday afternoon, Phinney said he is still unsure if he is going to be a part of the field.
In addition to the pain and cramps he felt after winning the time trial Friday morning, his younger sister is graduating from college in Vermont this weekend. Phinney booked a flight to head north, but he has yet to make a final decision.
“I seriously haven’t even thought about it,” Phinney said. “I have a flight (Saturday) night. I can’t pedal my left leg over the top of the crank arm right now ... so I’m looking forward to the sweet relief of not being in pain at some point in the near future.”
In the Women’s Time Trial National Championship on Friday, Carmen Small of Cervelo Bigla Pro Cycling Team won the 33 kilometer race with a time of 42 minutes, 32 seconds. It was the second Time Trial National Championship for Small, who also won the event in 2013.