ROUBAIX, France (VN) — Speaking with VeloNews at the pre-Roubaix press conference for BMC Racing on Thursday, American cycling legend Davis Phinney made a bold prediction about his son, Taylor. Noting that the 21-year-old Phinney was on good form and especially well-suited to the race as its only two-time U23 winner, Davis suggested Taylor could land a top-15 finish in his pro debut.
“Yeah, my dad knows me pretty well,” said a laughing Taylor Phinney Sunday after crossing the line in 15th place.
After taking pulls off the front for much of the day in support of teammates Alessandro Ballan (who finished third) and former world champion Thor Hushovd (whose own podium hopes crashed when he went down late in the race), Phinney still had the strength to finish amongst the leaders, even winning his own group’s sprint.
“[Roubaix] is my favorite race on the entire calendar,” Phinney said outside his team bus.
“There’s no hills and I love riding over cobblestones. So, it’s sort of tailor-made for me. I knew that I could finish in the top 20 if I was going on a good day. With the amount of work that I did, I’m really happy to finish where I finished. It’s a really good sign going forward for the next couple years.”
His father agreed.
“I’m impressed,” said Davis Phinney. “I mean, I knew what he was capable of, but to see him stay up there and stay up there, after having done so much work for the team early on? It was a pretty awesome ride.”
Taylor credited his strong finish to good form and good luck.
“I had really good legs today, plus no mishaps — no crashes or flats — and so it was kind of the perfect combination. I did a lot of work for the guys and I tried really hard in the first 70K to get into the breakaway and get us to the front in some big sections like the Arenberg.”
It’s clear that the cobbles agree with the younger Phinney, something he acknowledged as perverse.
“Every time I would get on the cobbles I just felt at home in a kind of weird, sick and twisted way. If I was too far back I would just move up,” he said. “Even in the Arenberg, you know I went into it maybe 30th wheel but moved up into the top-15 and gave it a go. For whatever reason I felt like I needed to attack.”
As for his father’s suggestion that Taylor draws energy from the pavé? Phinney offered little evidence to the contrary on Sunday.
“Yeah, well, I feel like if you’re reading an article and a rider says that he gains energy over the cobblestones, you’d be like, ‘whatever, that’s totally B.S.,’” he said. “But there’s something about all the rattling. When I get off of a normal road, I just feel like this extra little burst of energy. I don’t know if it’s like a numbing effect or what it is, but I love the cobbles.
“I don’t really want to go out tomorrow and ride any roads with cobblestones on them. But I love this race. Everything about it. Finishing in the velodrome, the cobblestones…it’s the best.”
And of course, Davis Phinney played the proud father at the velodrome. And the most prolific American sprinter off all time was of course bullish on his son’s prospects on the cobbles.
“My prediction that Taylor is going to win someday? I don’t think that you can dispute it at this point,” he said. “He certainly has it in him.”