In five days at the Giro d'Italia, Taylor Phinney (BMC) has had incidents in every road stage and the team time trial stage. Only during the inaugural individual time trial did he get through without touching the ground.
In stage 2 and stage 3, he dealt with crashes. Then during the stage 4 team time trial, he rode off the road around a bend, but fortunately re-established his balance and avoided crashing, although afterward he still had to slow down and pick the grass out of his drivetrain.
In Thursday's stage 5, as the second best young rider of the Giro, he wore the white jersey for the last time after another crash put him back in the laughing group which finished on the Adriatic coast at 12:02 behind winner Mark Cavendish (Sky). Phinney was wearing the maglia bianca because the best young rider Ramunas Navardauskas (Garmin-Barracuda) was busy wearing the maglia rosa of the overall race leader.
With 37km to go, Saxo Bank's Lucas Sebastian Haedo went down after touching the back wheel of Stefano Locatelli as he was chatting in the bunch with John Gadret from Ag2r-La Mondiale. "The crash occurred in front of me, and I didn't see it", Phinney said after crossing the finishing line with Theo Bos, Romain Feillu, Sébastien Rosseler and Alex Rasmussen, who were clearly suffering after giving it all yesterday for Garmin-Barracuda in the team time trial.
"I don't know what my problem is", Phinney said. "Crashes and bad luck happen in life and in cycling, but it won't prevent me from going ahead."
Phinney's injured ankle, from the crash at the end of stage 3 in Horsens, still hurts, but he isn't giving up, as his main goal is to finish his first grand tour. "I don't know what's going to happen to me tomorrow," he said. "However, I wake up every day with great enthusiasm. All I can control is my behavior. I'm at the Giro d'Italia. This is the greatest race I've ever done."
The Boulder native has experienced many previous successes. He competed in the Beijing Olympics at the age of 18 but now he is realizing the media impact that comes with riding a grand tour. He made the legendary talk show "Processo alla tappa" on RAI television as he joined presenter Alessandra Di Stefano in the mobile studio. Despite all his bruises, he laughed at all of his crashes that were replayed.
His mother Connie Carpenter went on stage as well and received an SMS from a friend who heard on TV, "Tutte le ragazze sono innamorate di Taylor" [all the girls are in love with Taylor].
Phinney, who speaks an excellent Italian since he lived in Marostica (Veneto) between the ages of 12 and 14, touched the heart of the spectators when he openly talked about his father Davis. "He was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2000," said Taylor. "I was 10 years old. I didn't know what it was. I've grown up with this disease and that makes our family more united. When I'm pushing on my bike, I think of my dad. He's a very special person for me. When I get dropped like today, I think of him as well. I remember that he suffers while I'm so lucky to be on my bike."
RAI replayed images of Davis Phinney on the starting ramp of the Giro d'Italia in the 1980s. "He was a great one," said Taylor of his dad, who was the first American to win a road stage at the Tour de France back in 1986 in Liévin.