Contrasting emotions for medallists Phinney and Kiryienka after Worlds time trial
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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Contrasting emotions for medallists Phinney and Kiryienka after Worlds time trial

by Ben Atkins at 12:44 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, World Championships
American heartbroken, Belarusian elated, both motivated by result after defeat to Tony Martin

Taylor PhinneySometimes they say it's much worse to finish second than third. The bronze medallist looks down from the bottom step of the podium and thanks his lucky stars that he didn’t miss out, while the silver medallist looks up from the second step to the gold he almost got.

This was certainly true of the podium at today’s World championship time trial in Limburg, Netherlands, as the United States’ Taylor Phinney was narrowly denied his first senior rainbow on the road, while Belarus’ Vasil Kiryienka was a delighted, and surprised, bronze medallist.

“This is a season with a lot of near misses,” Phinney told the post-race press conference. “If you had told me this morning I would win the silver medal I would’ve been excited. Now I’m pretty pissed. Tony is a great champion but I got so close. Then again, this medal gives me a lot of motivation to get through winter and come out full guns blazing.”

This season has seen the 22-year-old Phinney come of age on the road, with victory in the Giro d’Italia’s opening time trial giving him the race’s first rainbow jersey. He had staked the whole of the summer on the Olympic Games however, where he finished an agonising fourth in both the road race and time trial.

Phinney is still developing as a rider however, and will only get better in this kind of event.

“I worked on my position on the bike,” he explained. “I used to be a prologue specialist but now I’m specifically working on longer TT’s. What about this race? It’s being in the pain cave for an hour.

“You hate life for a while but then the finish comes and it’s over.”

Vasil KiryienkaKiryinenka’s emotions couldn’t have been more different from the American’s however. As a midfield starter, the 31-year-old Belarusian - whose previous best in the Worlds had been his sixth place way back in 2007 - was expected to be a midfield finisher. He was the first rider to beat the equally surprising Kazakh Dmitriy Gruzdev [who eventually finished sixth - ed] and was not pushed out of the hot seat until Phinney finished almost an hour later.

“I’m surprised I reached the podium,” Kiryienka explained. “It’s a dream come true and I’ve worked real hard to make it happen. The last three weeks I’ve been focused on the team time trial and the individual TT. Real happy to take home a medal, it’s real important for my career.”

The Belarusian’s career, which has been spent at the Movistar [formerly Caisse d’Epargne - ed] team for the last four years, is to take a new direction next season, where his newly rediscovered time trialling prowess will doubtless be appreciated.

“I’ve signed a three-year deal with Team Sky,” he said. “After four years I had to change teams. I’m grateful for what Movistar did for me, especially general manager Eusebio Unzué.

“I became a pro quite late and at this point I need to step it up a bit,” he explained. “Sky is a team of champions, so I think they’re happy to sign a medal-winner. I’m going to learn to speak English, as I learned to speak Italian and Spanish before. You owe that to the team you’re working for.”


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