x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Early Dubai Tour leader refuses to get carried away after one stage

Phinney exceeds own expectations with time trial victory

US cyclist Taylor Phinney rounds a turn during the first stage of the Dubai Tour yesterday.  Ali Haider / EPA
US cyclist Taylor Phinney rounds a turn during the first stage of the Dubai Tour yesterday. Ali Haider / EPA

DUBAI // Taylor Phinney, winner of the first stage of professional racing in Dubai, played down his chances of overall success this weekend after insisting Wednesday’s 9.9-kilometre course was just about the perfect length for him.

The former junior world time trial champion won Stage 1 on the out-and-back course between Dubai World Trade Centre and Downtown in 12 minutes, 3 seconds. The 23-year-old American says he pines for races of this length, intimating that the remaining three stages – which range from 122km to 162km – could be a struggle.

“I exceeded my expectations,” Phinney said. “There are a lot of variables in this race, with the wind, and the hills on Day 3. We will take it day by day.

“I don’t think I’ve won the tour [by winning the opening stage]. If there is an event for me, it is 12 minutes and below. I was really happy when this course came out.”

The BMC Racing Team rider had an average speed of 50.9kph on the layout around the streets of Dubai’s financial district. He comfortably led the field home, with the second-place rider, Britain’s Steven Cummings, posting a time 14 seconds slower.

Tony Martin, the world champion, began his recovery after surgery this winter by finishing fourth, 22 seconds adrift.

Fabian Cancellara, the Swiss rider who is also still in the throes of recuperation after a crash in training last month, was fifth.

The four-time world time trial champion is used to success in this region, having won the Tour of Oman in 2010. However, he acknowledged that the relatively warm conditions here provide a test for riders who are tapering their preparations for the European season.

“It is not summer, it is not spring, but the conditions are the same,” Cancellara said.

“I did a short warm-up then the race as best I could. I was quite happy how everything went, and that is 10km done. The next days are what is important for me.”

Despite the fact his build-up to this event was abbreviated by injury, Cancellara said he is ready for the remaining three stages – so long as he can relocate a lung that went AWOL yesterday.

“For the last two kilometres I felt like I was missing a lung which gives me air,” the Trek Factory Racing rider said. “This isn’t the sort of pain you feel after the first real effort you put in, because I did some training back home already where I put that effort in.

“You can’t compare that to here, though, because your lungs are kind of itching. It is the pain of breathing, there is acid in the legs, and it hurts.

“In three weeks’ time, this type of effort will be easy to do. The hardest thing is doing time trials when you are not in good condition because you feel more pain.”