The young American made a late surge to try to get across to the riders that went clear on the Poggio. He could see them in the finishing straight but was unable to catch them as Sagan and Ciolek started their sprint.
Phinney finished seventh but proved he was a real fighter when the conditions turn nasty. He was not the designated team leader for the BMC Racing Team but outshone world champion Philippe Gilbert, Greg Van Avermaert and Thor Hushovd.
"What a day," Phinney said, clearly exhausted.
"I was in the second group and hanging on but then I moved up on the descent and had some speed coming out of it and just went for it. I gave everything I had. I almost caught them with four hundred metres to go but then they started to do their sprint."
After getting a shower he talked more about his day in the wet and cold condition that will make the 2013 Milan-San Remo go down in history.
"It was an interesting day for the riders and the spectators. It was an ok day for me too," he said.
"I went through some different feelings in the snow and then on the bus and then when we started again. I just hung on and couldn't tell what was happening. It was chaos, cold and wet."
"I stayed around Phil Gilbert and Greg (Van Avermaert) and saw I had a chance to bridge across. It was a split second decision that I made at the bottom of the Poggio. I just went for it. It's a good result for me considering the conditions but it was a crazy day."
BMC directeur sportif Fabio Baldato praised Phinney for his ride.
"It was good what Taylor did. We saw him come back onto the front group from the team. To get seventh is better than nothing after a hard race and a difficult day. The guys did their best on an incredible day," he said.
"It was race or survival race. All the guys did their best today. It was hard with the snow and cold at first. Miki had a bad crash. Thor had a problem and we lost Daniel (Oss). Phil tried it on the descent and it was good not to take a risk but he missed a good moment when Stannard and Chavanel went clear. Everybody was at their limit in the finale."