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The BMC Racing Team had Taylor Phinney and Greg Van Avermaet (second and third from left) in a breakaway move midway through the stage. (©BMC/Graham Watson.)
The BMC Racing Team had Taylor Phinney and Greg Van Avermaet (second and third from left) in a breakaway move midway through the stage. (©BMC/Graham Watson.)

Amgen Tour, Stage 1: Phinney Ninth

12. May 2014

BMC Racing Team's Taylor Phinney finished ninth on Sunday's opening stage of the Amgen Tour of California after he and teammate Greg Van Avermaet were part of a breakaway midway through the race.

A Dangerous Move
The BMC Racing Team riders made their escape just as an earlier six-man move was about to be caught with less than 60 kilometers to go in the 193.1-km race that started and finished in Sacramento. Despite having two riders among the 15 in the breakaway, BMC Racing Team Sport Director Max Sciandri called it "a dangerous move," since it contained Team Sky's Bradley Wiggins, one of the favorites for the overall. "That's the only guy we really didn't want there," Sciandri said. "When the gap went up to 50 seconds and nearly a minute, I got a little worried. I tried to pass to go to the front since I didn't have radio contact with the riders. But then it came back together and then we kept Pete (Stetina) on the safe side and Taylor tried a little bit of a sprint."

'I Just Felt Good'
Phinney was aggressive throughout the day, even counter attacking with Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) after the group's escape was pulled back with 22 km left. "I just felt good and noticed Boonen was really strong," he said. "Collectively, we wanted to get rid of Matt Goss and Wiggins so we would have more of a chance to take it to the line." Ultimately, the field reeled in every breakaway and Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) edged John Degenkolb (Team Giant-Shimano) for the win as Moreno Hofland (Belkin Pro Cycling Team) finished third. Winner of the Dubai Tour in February, Phinney's top 10 result was his first since a seventh-place finish at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in March.

Stetina Stayed Quiet
Peter Stetina, the BMC Racing Team's leader, said he did his best to conserve energy with a 20.1-km individual time trial upcoming on Monday. "I tried to stay as quiet as possible, but it was a hard day with those winds buffeting you all day," Stetina said. "But it was an honor being protected by all these guys. With our jersey color, I literally had the red carpet rolled out for me all day, which was pretty fun." Phinney said his efforts in the breakaway should not affect his performance in the time trial. "I'm feeling super strong," he said.

Listen to complete comments from Thor Hushovd, Phinney, Stetina and Sciandri on the BMC Racing Team's Audio Line.

See photos from the race on the BMC Racing Team's Flickr gallery.