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Taylor Phinney sends shock waves through peloton with top-10 result at MSR

MILAN (VN) — Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing) is sending shock waves through the peloton as it rolls through the classics. After a brave ride in Tirreno-Adriatico, he again went solo yesterday to earn a seventh-place result in Milano-Sanremo, the best finish for an American at the one-day race since 2002.

If Phinney, 22, continues in a similar manner, he will shape the cobbled classics Ronde Van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) and Paris-Roubaix over the next three weeks.

“What a day,” Phinney said. “I gave it everything I had.”

Phinney crossed the line on the tail end of the winning group of six. He bridged solo off the Poggio and over the final kilometers leading to Sanremo.

It was hard to imagine such a result hours earlier.

Ice and snow

After rolling out of Milan, the 200-strong peloton encountered rain and heavy snow. Riders screamed in pain and shook their hands to get rid of the numb feeling.

The sports directors radioed back and forth with the head of race operations to express their concern. “What’s going on?” they said. “Like this, we won’t be able to pass over Turchino.”

The organizer decided to skip Turchino and re-route the riders around in their team buses. The frozen riders climbed onboard at kilometer 118.5.

Phinney posted a photo of himself on Twitter with his helmet and face covered in ice.

“What a day,” Phinney said. “It was an interesting day for the riders and the fans. It was an OK day for me. I went through fields of emotion in the snow and then on the bus and then starting again. I just hung on and couldn’t tell what was happening. It was chaos, cold and wet.”

Re-start and seventh

La Classicissima resumed in Cogoleto at 3 p.m. local time. Instead of climbing Le Mànie, it would shoot straight to Tre Capi before the Cipressa and the Poggio.

BMC sprinter Thor Hushovd abandoned, as well as many other riders. The snow, rain, and cold were just too much.

Phinney remained with teammates Greg Van Avermaet and world champion Philippe Gilbert. Phil-Gil played his card over the top of the Cipressa. He rode free and drew out Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), who helped form the winning move of six men.

After the Poggio’s descent, Phinney had his chance.

“It was a split second decision that I made,” he said. “I just went for it. I almost caught them with 400 meters to go but then they started their sprint and it was too late. It’s a good result for me considering the conditions but it was a crazy day.”

Shock waves

Phinney made a similar brave move in the last road stage of Tirreno-Adriatico last week. He rode solo over the last circuit under cold rain. It was an attempt to continue to the following day’s time trial, but he finished outside the time limit.

Added together, the rides signal him as a potential winner in Ronde or Roubaix. He will work for the team leaders, but has shown he can also do it on his own. It should not be forgotten that he already won the Under 23 Roubaix two times.

“What a day” as Phinney said. His ride yesterday was a good omen for the next classics.