With reporting from Daniel Benson
American Taylor Phinney proved he is a new force in the USA track cycling scene by becoming the country's first man to win a gold medal at a world championships in 13 years. The 18-year-old won the men's individual pursuit over Australian Jack Bobridge at the UCI Track World Championships in Pruszkow, Poland, on Thursday night.
The Boulder, Colorado, native clocked a winning time of 4:17.631 in the gold-medal final. Bobridge rode a 4:20.091 in the final to claim the silver medal, while Belgium's Dominique Cornu took the bronze in 4:22.347. Earlier in the day, Phinney set a new US national record with a 4:15.160 in the qualifying round to take the top seed.
"Everything went perfectly to plan," Phinney told Cyclingnews after his gold medal ride. "And being world champ, you know, it doesn't feel too bad. I knew if I had a good day it would work out and it was more just a relief when I knew I had it in the bag.
"It's the biggest win of my whole life and hopefully it's the first big step in a long career. I've got the kilo tomorrow, so no celebrations tonight. The jersey will be hanging in my room and I'm hoping to add it tomorrow."
Phinney, son of Olympic gold medallist Connie Carpenter-Phinney and Tour de France stage winner Davis Phinney, took up the event not two years ago, and in that short time has risen to the top of the world rankings. Cyclingnews reached Davis Phinney on Thursday, and he was excited about his son's performance.
"It feels pretty thrilling right now. The kid is unbelievable and he still surprises me and with what he can do. I'm awful proud of my son. This means so much to Connie and too. I was never a world champion, and she was in this event, so for different reasons this means so much to us. He really is in the big leagues now and what he's shown is that he can actually go faster. I'm pretty blown away to have a world champion for a son.
"Hats off to Bobridge too. He was so strong in the final and they really pushed each other all the way. Both these two riders have a big future."
With is win in the final, he became the first American male track rider since Marty Nothstein to take gold on the track. Nothstein won the keirin title in 1996. The last American to win a men's pursuit title was Mike McCarthy in 1992. USA Cycling said his victory "marks the continued resurgence of USA Cycling's track program".
"Following a seven-year span in which Americans captured only two world championship medals between 1999 and 2005, U.S. athletes have since claimed a total of seven medals, including four world titles," a press release stated. Last year Jennie Reed claimed the women's keirin title, while Sarah Hammer scored consecutive wins in the women's individual pursuit in 2006 and 2007. Phinney became the fourth American to claim a rainbow jersey on the track today.
USA Cycling interim director of athletics Jim Miller said Phinney's success is evidence that the organisation's programs are paying off. "Looking at Taylor's recent accomplishments, as well as the many successes of American athletes on the track throughout the last several years, it's obvious our efforts are yielding results. For Taylor, his potential is astounding considering his age."