Cannondale-Drapac star prepares for first Classic with his new team
This will be the third time that Phinney has toed the line, his most recent finish coming last year with BMC, when he finished 7-19 down from winner Peter Sagan.
“Everyone in Belgium knows this race. It’s Super Bowl Sunday for bike racing, even more so than the Tour de France,” Phinney said.
In Belgium, this second Monument of the season is unequivocally the country’s largest sporting event of the year. “It’s bigger than the Olympic Games for the Belgians,” said Cannondale–Drapac sport director Andreas Klier.
The race sees the peloton tackle over 260km with 18 total climbs, 11 of those being cobbled. For the 101st edition of this historic race, the Muur-Kapelmuur returns to the parcours after a nine-year hiatus.
Typically, Flanders is decided by the cobbled Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg climbs, which come back-to-back and are only 13 and seven kilometres respectively from the finish line in Oudenaarde.
Last year, Phinney was riding in support of Greg Van Avermaet. This year, he’ll be supporting Sep Vanmarcke, who is looking to improve upon his third place finish at the opening Classic of the season, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad last month.
Having not raced any Classics so far this year because of a slight set-back to his injured leg, Phinney is looking forward to testing his form. “It’s nice to go into Flanders completely fresh mentally and not scarred by any of the previous Classics,” he said.
Other American riders lining up for the ‘Super Bowl’ of bike racing include first timer Kiel Reijnen (Trek–Segafredo) and veteran Tyler Farrar (Dimenson Data), who will be racing his 10th Tour of Flanders. Farrar’s best finish came in 2010 while riding for a previous iteration of the Cannondale-Drapac team, Team Garmin – Transitions when he came in fifth behind the podium of Fabian Cancellara, Tom Boonen and Phillipe Gilbert.