American Taylor Phinney will join Cannondale-Drapac next season. The move will mark a homecoming for Boulder, Colorado’s Phinney, who got his start as a cyclist with Slipstream Sports CEO Jonathan Vaughters at Vaughters’ development team, then known as Team 5280 Magazine.
Phinney will focus on the northern classics and time trials. The 26-year-old has worn the maglia rosa and finished fourth at the Olympics in both the road race and time trial (2012). He’s won stages at the Eneco Tour, USA Pro Cycling Challenge and the Tour of Poland, and the overall at the Dubai Tour (2014). Phinney has also finished runner-up at the world championships in the time trial (2012).
“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,” Phinney said. “One of the major reasons is to work with Cannondale, as an American bike sponsor. My first bike I got was a blue Cannondale that I got from my parents. My family, we used to have closer ties to Cannondale — when I was a kid, those were the bikes that we rode as a family. So it’s cool to return to that.”
Phinney has been haunted by the effects of a crash at US nationals in 2014, where he braked to avoid a motorbike and badly broke his leg. It has taken him years to recover, and at times he’s thought about leaving cycling. All told, the move to Cannondale-Drapac is a chance to remain in the sport he loves with a fresh start.
“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,” Phinney said. “The last few years have been pretty trying, though super rewarding. But at the same time, I’ve been putting a lot of energy into recovering from this ultra-broken leg that I had in 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. 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.”
Vaughters saw how Phinney responded to his broken leg and decided to pursue his former rider.
“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 — he could step away from the sport having done more in three or four years than most people do in 15 years … And all of a sudden, it became this question of whether he really wanted it. 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.’”
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2017 bmc cannondale-drapac cobbled classics cycling transfers Jonathan Vaughters Taylor Phinney