VERONA, Italy (VN) — In the city of forbidden love, young American Taylor Phinney saw his heart broken Wednesday. His Giro d’Italia dream ended as fast as it started, in 33.2 short kilometers around Verona’s suburbs, his pink jersey, his schoolboy crush, slipped away.
In Piazza Bra, at the conclusion of the Giro’s fourth leg, Phinney and his BMC mates arrived in 37 minutes and 35 seconds. He didn’t feel well, he thought he’d dragged down the team and couldn’t care less about the beauty that surrounded him, the Roman Arena above, the girls at the cafes. His lead was lost, the pink jersey had slipped away to Garmin-Barracuda’s Ramunas Navardauskas.
“I was very honored to wear this jersey for the days I had it,” he told VeloNews, slumped on the stairs of the team bus. “I was happy to bring it back to Italy, but sorry to lose it here in Verona.”
Some 1500 kilometers away in Denmark, Phinney lived up to the heavy expectations that were put on him. He went into the race’s opening time trial as the favorite and left as the winner. He knocked Geraint Thomas (Sky) out of the lead by nine seconds to take what he called his schoolboy crush, the pink jersey.
What more did the Italian and Danish Tifosi expect? Phinney grew up speaking the cycling language thanks to mom and dad, Connie and Davis. Connie won the 1984 Olympic road race and Davis scored the first stage for the U.S. in the Tour de France.
The younger Phinney proved just as powerful, earning world titles in the team pursuit on the track and in the under-23 time trial on the road. Add those to the back-to-back Paris-Roubaix Espoirs, and you have the makings of a champion.