Type of Rider: Time-Trialist, Sprinter, Classics of the North
Biggest Success: two-times World Champion Individual Pursuit
Team/Club 2010: Trek – Livestrong Under 23
Stagiaire: Team RadioShack
Team 2011: BMC Racing Team
Best Mock List Ranking: 11th (2009)
There seldom are Under 23 riders whose names are known even to German Eurosport commentators, but Taylor Phinney is one of them. The son of top cyclists Davis Phinney and Connie Carpenter, sort of of profiting from legal gene doping, started on the track. While still being a Junior, he astonishingly finished 7th at the Olympic Games in Beijing in the individual pursuit. In the following years he was World champion in this discipline. One more World Champion title was won by Phinney in 2007 on the road as a Junior, when he left everyone behind in the time-trial in Aguascalientes.
On the road Phinney had his breakthrough last year, when he ranked 11th in the Mock List with ease. Back then it was more or less clear that the “New Lance Armstrong” would race with team RadioShack in 2011, because a whole Under 23 team – Trek Livestrong U23 – was built around him for 2010. So it wasn´t a surprise that he signed a stagiaire contract with RadioShack. The big surprise came when it was announced in September that the American had signed for 4 years with Team BMC. It is not known what the cause for this decision was, maybe the 4 year term convinced the 20-year old.
This year his season went as expected, as there was no stopping the upcoming star. In his few carefully selected races he convinced nearly every time. His biggest race was also the first of the season, it was the Tour of Qatar (2.1) with high-class international competition. In sprints he twice finished in the top-ten, placing seventh and eighth.
In the Triptyque des Monts et Chateaux (2.2) he finished 12 seconds behind Bol on second place after winning a half-stage in a sprint and finishing 2nd and 4th in other stages. But in the time trail he was beaten by no less than six riders, losing 14 seconds to Bol in 8,4 kilometers. A surprise?! Not really, as a crash on rain-covered roads usually costs more time than Phinney´s deficit was. Without this fall he would have crushed the opposition for another time.
He also hurt his knee in this crash, forcing him to rest to heal an inflammation.
After that, he soon destroyed his opponents once more, this time in the Netherlands, at the Olympia´s Tour (2.2). There, in mid-May, he gave his strongest show. At the 10 km prologue he took no less than 17 seconds off teammate Sergent, third-placed Durbridge was 27 seconds behind. The next stage was won by the American ahead of Coen Vermeltfoort in a mass-sprint. The stage after that was decided in a bunch sprint, too. This time Van Poppel placed ahead of Vermeltfoort, but it was Phinney who took his third season win. In the next three stages he finished second twice and seventh once, before again winning the time-trial on the last stage. This time his advantage wasn´t that big, but this was caused by changing wind conditions. In the overall classification he finished an astonishing 1:17 minutes ahead of second-placed Mini-Rabo rider Vermeltfoort, a demonstration of strength at a race that was won by the Mini-Rabos 8 years in a row before that.
In the end of May Taylor won the Under 23 version of Paris-Roubaix (1.2U) for the second time.
At the Thüringen – Rundfahrt (2.2U) Phinney apparently wasn´t in top form anymore, he finished 3rd twice, 4th and 7th in sprints. For other riders this would have been a success, for the Trek rider these results were overshadowed by his other achievements.
He had his debut as a stagiaire at the Tour of Denmark where a time-trail waited for him. Unfortunately Phinney crashed in the first stage, hurting his knee again and forcing him to leave the race cautiously on the fourth stage. So his start in Denmark probably also was his last in the RadioShack jersey.
Business as usual in the next race, the Tour de l´Avenir in early September. The knee was fine, the time-trial was won ahead of Dowsett and Matthews, the crash came on stage two.
So bike-handling seems to be the cyclist´s biggest enemy. So many crashes can´t be explained by bad luck alone.
At the World Championships Phinney can hardly be beaten in the time-trial, unless he takes a tarmac test again. More than ever after he won the American time trial title midway september, just in front of Levi Leipheimer! Also in the World’s road race he mustn´t be overlooked, because he may as well be called “Allrounder” in the type-of-rider field at the top of this article. Often so-called “Allrounders” are riders that are good in many fields, but not top in any. This isn´t the case at all for the 20-year-old. Without doubt, in his first Pro season he will earn some successes, in time-trials he already is top-class. In the future, he may as well develop into a contender for stage races. While presently the mountains may still be his weakness, with his slight build and his talent this road seems to be pre-destined.
nominated by all, written by ogkempf, translated by bugno