Teenage track sensation Taylor Phinney struck gold in the men’s pursuit to end the United States’ 16-year wait for the title at the world track cycling championships Thursday.
Phinney, who turns 19 on June 27, fulfilled pre-race predictions to overcome a strong challenge from Australian Jack Bobridge, who finished second. Belgian Dominique Cornu won bronze after beating Volodymyr Dyudya.
With 2008 world and Olympic champion Bradley Wiggins not competing, the way was open for the likes of Phinney, considered the new sensation of American cycling, to strike gold.
He qualified for the gold-medal match in style, setting a new American record of 4:15.160 for the 16 laps of the track.
In the final, Bobridge fought valiantly, keeping Phinney within his sights over a tight first half of the race.
However, Phinney soon began to edge ahead, and by the 3000m mark his advantage was 0.5 seconds over Bobridge.
In the end Phinney finished in a time of 4:17.631 to become the first American champion in the 4km event since Mike McCarthy in 1992.
Born in Boulder, Colorado, Phinney is the son of successful cycling parents.
Father Davis won bronze in the 100km time trial in 1984, the same year his mother Connie Carpenter won gold in the women’s road race.
“After the Olympics (a world title) definitely wasn’t on my radar for another couple of years, but I learned how to do everything right and now it’s paying off,” said Phinney, who admits he might have a slight advantage over his rivals.
“My mom was pursuit world champion, my dad was a good sprinter, so maybe I’ve got this big genetic advantage. It’s sort of written in my gene code that I should be good at this event,” he said.
“It’s something that I take forward, and I have a little mental edge over everybody else I think. The main goal now is London 2012, and I’m sure I’ll be back at the world championships next year and the year after that.”
The world record in the event is 4:11.114, set by Britain’s Chris Boardman at Manchester in 1996.
Individual pursuit(1st two to final, third and fourth to bronze medal)
1. Taylor Phinney (USA) 4min 15.160sec
2. Jack Bobridge (AUS) 4:17.419
3. Dominique Cornu (BEL) 4:19.197
4. Volodymyr Dyudya (UKR) 4:19.786
5. Jesse Sergent (NZL) 4:21.253
6. Sergi Escobar (ESP) 4:23.619
7. Alexei Markov (RUS) 4:23.993
8. Patrick Gretsch (GER) 4:24.564
9. Robert Bartko (GER) 4:26.277
10. Vitaliy Shchedov (UKR) 4:26.508
11. Antonio Tauler (ESP) 4:26.681
12. Arles Castro Laverde (COL) 4:27.750
13. Levi Heimans (NED) 4:28.638
14. Ingmar De Poortere (BEL) 4:30.089
15. David O’Loughlin (IRL) 4:32.480
16. Arnaud Depreeuw (FRA) 4:32.559
17. Valery Kaikov (RUS) 4:32.612
18. Alessandro de Marchi (ITA) 4:35.916
19. Jiri Bares (CZE) 4:39.614
20. Alexey Lyalko (KAZ) 4:43.885
DQ Adrian Kurek (POL)