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Phinney claims junior worlds pursuit gold

Taylor Phinney setting his 3000m pursuit record

Taylor Phinney setting his 3000m pursuit record (Image credit: John Pierce)

Just a month before he will represent the United States in the 2008 Olympic Games, 18 year-old Taylor Phinney earned a junior world championship in the 3,000-meter individual pursuit on Saturday as part of his final preparation for the Games.

While in South Africa as part of the US National Team for the 2008 UCI Junior Road and Track World Championships, Phinney clocked a winning time of thee minutes, 23.759 seconds in the gold medal final to beat Australian Dennis Rohan and secure his first world title in the event.

Phinney, who is the current junior world record holder in the event, earned the number-one seed earlier in the day with a mark of 3:20.264 in the qualifying round to set up a head-to-head ride against Rohan for the rainbow jersey. In the finals, Phinney finished nearly four seconds ahead of Rohan to earn his second career junior world championship. He's also the defending champion in the time trial event on the road - a title he will defend on Friday.

In the consolation matchup, New Zealand's Jason Christie earned the bronze medal over Australia's Luke Durbridge.

For Phinney, his junior world title in the pursuit on Saturday continues a remarkable year which has seen him qualify for the US Olympic Team as a 17 year-old after just five months of track racing. Recently, Phinney surpassed the 3000m junior world record with a mark of 3:16.589 at a selection camp at the ADT Event Center velodrome in Los Angeles, a facility considered much faster than the track in Cape Town because of the wooden racing surface.

In Beijing, Phinney will compete in the 4,000-meter individual pursuit which is the standard distance in the elite ranks. While in South Africa, he will also race in the points race and the omnium.

Phinney's medal wasn't the only one for the US on day one. Colleen Hayduk earned a bronze medal in the scratch race by finishing after Australia's Megan Dunn and Gemma Dudley. Hayduk was also scheduled to race the match sprint and the keirin.

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Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews.  She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.