Taylor Phinney just won the U23 World Championships in the TT discipline which makes Colorado's total Worlds TT champions for 2010 two! The other World champion in 2010 is Gene Palumbo who won his title a month or so ago in Austria. I've had the luck of racing on Gene's team a few years ago and now the honor of interviewing him.
[303Cycling] Competing in the World Championships isn't something you decide a few weeks prior to the event, how long has this quest been in the plans?
I began thinking about competing at Worlds about 3 years ago after competing at Nationals. I met a guy at Nationals named Thurlow Rodgers who is a World Champion and was intrigued by his success and the fact that he had rainbow stripes on his kit. I thought, Wow, what an accomplishment and how cool to focus and achieve that level of success. I decided then that I would figure out what it took to go to World’s and what it would take to focus in training for the Time Trial event and if I would even have a chance at getting on the podium if I committed to doing so. I heard the event in Austria was very professional, dynamic and a really cool experience.
[303Cycling] What was you life/training like to prepare for Worlds? (I don't need training plan details but how intense was your training? Would have this been something like out of the movie Rocky?)
Everything on a daily basis had to do with sticking with my training plan as well as diet, scheduling with my wife and making many sacrifices including family to focus on cycling. My wife and son are 100% supportive and we all schedule our days, weeks and events around my training calendar. How amazingly selfish and egocentric this has all been but without the support of my wife and son this never would have solidified.
In training for the World’s, I tried to leverage the foundation of training and racing established during the past several years. From 2006 through 2008 I was coached by the same USA Cycling certified coach and in 2009 I ended up coaching myself. I went to the World’s in St. Johann, Austria in 2009 and ended up 22nd in the Time Trial and was very disappointed as well as mad at myself for a bad performance. While in Austria I met a guy named Michael Carter and agreed to utilize his coaching services in 2010 with the goal of focusing on my time trialing abilities and trying to win Nationals and Worlds. A large part of the motivation to focus on time trialing was due to lower back problems that have been getting progressively worse. I have found that spending less time in the saddle for long durations and my position on a time trial bike essentially gave me a new life in racing as I had seriously considered quitting many times. The excruciating back pain and associated physical therapy, stretching, core work and time needed to do all these maintenance things, in addition to training, was becoming too much to handle for myself and my family from both a financial and emotional perspective. Coach Carter worked around my back issue by developing a training plan focused on shorter duration training rides with high power intensity. I was basically spending about 10-12 hours per week on my bike and another 3 hours per week focused on lower back maintenance including core and stretching work. Each month I would go to Coach Carter’s studio for Conconi testing to measure how training was progressing and adjusting the training schedule accordingly to accomplish the Nationals and World’s goals. I don’t know if this was something out of “Rocky” but like any athlete that wants to be successful, I was very focused and dedicated to my training schedule. I truly believed I could win if stuck to the training schedule like glue no matter if I was sick, it was snowing or whatever other excuses could have gotten in the way. I believed in Coach Carter’s reputation and planning but I also believed that if I utilized his training plan and kept the rest of my body in killer shape that I would be stronger than anyone else at Worlds. I did whatever I could to give myself a competitive advantage including projecting myself onto the podium for months while training. Part of my training included a mantra my 8 year old son made up for me: “Ride like a bullet train” During races on out on training rides during the past few years I must have repeated this mantra thousands of times!!! I was pretty much riding 6-7 days per week. Monday’s are usually my recovery or Off day and I typically would treat them as active recovery days.