Taylor Phinney career profile
Taylor Phinney is the son of former US professional rider Davis Phinney and Olympic champion cyclist and speed skater Connie Carpenter.
With such great genes and surrounded by cycling at an early age, it was no surprise that the young Phinney found that he excelled on two wheels. The family moved to Italy for three years to run a cycle tour business when he was a teenager, and Phinney picked up Italian and soaked up the continental way of life.
He first made his mark on the international cycling scene when he won the junior world time trial title in 2007. The following year, he won the junior world title in the individual pursuit on the track and took a win in the pursuit at the Track World Cup in Los Angeles. He performed well at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, coming seventh in the individual pursuit.
Just one year later, in 2009, he progressed to taking the senior individual pursuit world title and the under-23 version of Paris-Roubaix. He switched road teams from Slipstream/Chipotle to Trek-Livestrong for 2009. All the while, his results were building on the track, taking numerous US national track titles at senior level.
The decision as to whether Phinney should continue with his successful track career or pursue wholeheartedly a more lucrative future on the road was largely made for him by the Union Cycliste Internationale, when it axed Phinney’s favoured individual pursuit event from the 2012 Olympic Games.
Phinney’s final year with the Trek-Livestrong squad in 2010 was the one that got many international team managers fighting for his signature. World titles on the track and road, four stage wins and the overall at the Olympia’s Tour, and wins in the Tour of Utah, Tour de l’Avenir and Tour of the Gila, plus a successful defence of his under-23 Paris-Roubaix title set him up as red-hot property. BMC was the team that got its man.
However, the leap from promising junior and under-23 rider to full-blown elite professional never comes easy. Phinney’s first season with BMC in 2011 was relatively quiet, with just one win in the Eneco Tour prologue. A fifth in the stage 10 individual time trial of the 2011 Vuelta a Espana was a sign that Phinney was building his strength in the Grand Tours.
Things changed in 2012. Helping BMC to win the team time trial in the Giro del Trentino, Phinney carried over his form to the Giro d’Italia where he blitzed the opposition to win the opening time trial stage and put himself into the coveted pink leader’s jersey.
Phinney’s easy-going nature and the fact that he can speak Italian and English won over the Giro’s fans. A nasty crash on stage three of the race saw Phinney cross the line in an ambulance having injured his ankle, but he hobbled onto the podium to collect his leader’s jersey and wave to the crowds. At the age of 21, his star status was confirmed.
2013 saw Phinney continue to flourish as a time trial specialist, but the American also picked up his first road race win on stage four of the Tour de Pologne.
Phinney won the Dubai Tour in 2014 and went on to pick up a stage at the Tour of California. However, a few months later, he suffered a career-threatening crash trying to avoid a motorbike on the descent during the US National RR Championships. He spent 12 months recovery and only raced again at the 2016 classics.
Phinney moved to Cannondale-Drapac in 2017, where he started the Tour. On his maiden tour, he held the king of the mountains jersey, surprising giving his lack of climbing ability.
He never quite showed the full promise that he had done as a junior racer. Ultimately, he will be remembered as a rider for his eloquence and novel view of the sport. He prefers to train without data and gain a deeper understanding of his body.
Phinney decided to step back from the sport in 2019 in order to pursue more artistic avenues in his life.