By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor in Carson, California
Seventeen year old Taylor Phinney (TIAA-CREF/5280) put a bounce in the step of USA Cycling track staff members last night when he handily won the elite pursuit national title.
Phinney was the talk of the track all day and night on Thursday. At just seventeen, the son of Davis Phinney and Connie Carpenter-Phinney is not eligible for membership in the USA Cycling track talent pool, nor can he compete in World Cup competitions, but after some conversations and rule checking, USA Cycling's athletic director Pat McDonough confirmed that Phinney can compete on the world stage as soon as January 1 when his racing age becomes 18 (though his birthday is not until June). "You will see him on the track at the Los Angeles World Cup," said McDonough. "And I am sure he will be even faster then!"
As well as Phinney, a host of newcomers to track racing have impressed the U.S. coaching staff, making a real possibility that the U.S. team could at least contend for medals in the 2008 Olympics. Dotsie Bausch (Colavita-Sutter Home), a long-time road racer, started training on the track just this year with Sarah Hammer. She won the elite pursuit national title as well as a spot in the USA Cycling track talent pool, which is the first step to making the Olympic team. Both runners-up in the men's and women's pursuit races, Brad Huff (Slipstream-Chipotle) and Christen King (Young's Training) earned spots in the pool thanks to their times.
The racing at the ADT track at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California continues Friday with the continuation of the sprint rounds as well as the men's and women's points races.