Phinney to make comeback to cycling at Tour of Utah

Taylor Phinney had to endure such a long rehab from a devastating injury that the Olympic cyclist picked up painting and learned to fly a plane, just to help pass the time.

On Monday, he'll get back to doing what he loves most.

The former world pursuit champion and two-time national time trial champion will make his return to racing at the Tour of Utah, a seven-day stage race beginning in Logan. It will be his first race since May 2014, when Phinney collided with a motorcycle during a downhill section of the national championships course and went careening into a guardrail.

The wreck left Phinney with a compound fracture of his tibia, a dislocated fibia, a shattered kneecap and a severed patellar tendon, putting his racing future in question.

''Happy to announce I'll be racing the Tour of Utah, starting Monday,'' Phinney posted on Twitter earlier Friday. ''Thank you to the many beautiful souls who have helped get me back!''

Phinney, among the sport's most popular riders, will be joined on his BMC Racing Team by Peter Stetina, who is coming back from a similar injury sustained at the Vuelta a Pais Vasco in April. The American rider crashed into a post in the road and broke his tibia and patella.

''Taylor has been working very hard to get to where he is now and believes that he is ready to race,'' said BMC Racing Team physician Dr. Max Testa. ''The team has no expectations of him. He will test his condition to see where his knee is and what kind of condition he has. From this race, he can gauge what the rest of the season may look like.''

As for Stetina, Testa said ''all of the doctors who have seen Peter cannot believe his determination. He did not want to miss this opportunity to return to racing in the U.S.''

The Tour of Utah, following on the heels of the Tour de France, begins an unprecedented run of high-level races in North America. The USA Pro Challenge is a couple weeks later, and the Tour of Alberta in Canada is also on tap, before the world's best congregate in Richmond, Virginia, at the end of the September for the world championships.

It will be the first time that worlds are held on American soil since 1986.

Phinney would have been among the favorites in the time trial in Richmond, and he still has a shot at making the U.S. roster. But he will have to prove his form quickly to earn the nod, and he undoubtedly believes the Tour of Utah could be just the springboard.

''He's been working hard, doing physical therapy, riding his bike,'' said Jim Ochowicz, who runs the BMC Racing Team. ''We were hopeful he'd be back racing by the end of the year.

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