Tracking Taylor Phinney's progress

May 30, 2014
Category: General  Stage 5 

It’s been difficult to get information about Taylor Phinney since he crashed on Monday (May 26) during the 2014 Volkswagen USA Cycling Professional National Championship Road Race in Chattanooga, Tennessee. His team, BMC Racing, is keeping silent, not issuing a single press release to update the media on the rider’s condition, treatment, prognosis and recovery since announcing the crash, which occurred two days after Phinney won his second national time trial championship.

Phinney crashed on the first of four descents of Lookout Mountain on a sharp left-hand turn on Scenic Highway while traveling between 60-70 miles per hour sliding hard into a guardrail. The recent Amgen Tour of California Stage 5 winner broke the tibia-fibula on his left leg and injured his knee. He was taken to Erlanger Hospital where he underwent surgery Monday evening. The Insider’s source told me that Phinney’s mother, Connie Carpenter-Phinney, was called immediately after the crash and rushed to meet her son at the hospital. Her Twitter feed called it “a bad break in all ways.” Reportedly he slept a lot after the first surgery and had a second surgery on Wednesday (May 28) after which his mother tweeted “Docs are optimistic.”

Finally on Thursday (May 29), we heard from the 23-year-old Boulder, Colorado native himself. Phinney said via Twitter, “Thank you for all your love and support. The past three days have been incredibly trying... The road back will be long, but I am up for it!”

As with all incidents at bike races sanctioned by USA Cycling, a report was filed by the chief race official and USA Cycling is investigating the crash, which allegedly was caused by an erratic motorcycle on the course. UnitedHealthcare’s Lucas Euser was there and got caught up in the crash with his friend. Euser told the Chattanooga Times Free-Press, "All I really remember is that we came blazing up on what I think was a moto bike and maybe a car. All I remember is the moto was swerving back and forth, and it took Taylor to the inside and me to the outside of the corner and forcing us both to go straight [into the guardrails]."      

Euser was lucky to slam into a wall rear wheel first, which took the force of the crash and somehow he never hit the ground. He hurried to Phinney’s side to try to help calm the rider screaming and wreathing in pain until medical assistance arrived while directing spectators to alert the charging riders to steer clear of the accident scene.

Professional athletes make the extraordinary look mundane. The margin between victory and tragedy is a razor’s edge. Bike racing can be very dangerous and accidents do happen. Those old enough to remember the opening of ABC’s Wide World of Sports recall the line “The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat” uttered by an announcer over footage of a skier tumbling in nasty crash. Within 48 hours over Memorial Day weekend, Phinney experienced the elation of winning a national championship and endured what appears to be the devastating end of his 2014 season, just weeks away from making his expected debut at the Tour de France. Everyone at the Amgen Tour of California sends Phinney positive energy for a swift and complete recovery. He will be back. You can count on that.