The Tour de France is officially in full swing, through six stages in the 2017 race. Riding in his first Tour, Boulder native Taylor Phinney has already done something no American rider has done since 2012.
Phinney won the polka dot jersey after stage two on Sunday, given to the best climber at the end of each stage. This is impressive on a number of levels, the first being that no American has finished on the podium since the 2012 Tour, when Tejay van Garderen won the best young rider jersey. After Phinney won the jersey in stage two, fellow American and Cannondale-Drapac teammate Nathan Brown kept the streak alive, earning the right to wear the polka dots after stages three and four. The other reason Phinney’s achievement was so impressive is the fact that Phinney is traditionally a sprinter for his teams. A sprinter specializes in flat stretches of road, while a climber is best at riding up hills.
The jerseys given to podium finishers after each stage in the Tour de France are the yellow jersey given to the rider who finished first, the green given to the rider who racks up the most points (points are earned by winning individual sprints or climbs within a stage), the white is given to the best young rider (under 25 years old), the polka dotted jersey is given to the rider who earns the most points on climbs alone, and the red is given to the most aggressive rider of each stage.
While obviously every rider covets the yellow jersey, given to the fastest rider after each stage, earning any jersey is a big deal on an individual and team level. For Phinney to break the American drought of podium finishes, and Brown to follow up with two more jersey victories of his own is huge for American cycling, which has been in a slump of sorts ever since the doping scandals of Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis came out of the woodwork.
Phinney impressing in any Tour de France is great. Phinney impressing in his first ever Tour de France is downright amazing.
Phinney is currently the number three American at 155th place in the overall individual standings after finishing stage six in 16th place (best among Americans in the stage). Phinney is no newcomer to major races. He has racked up wins in an individual stage of the Giro d’Italia in 2012, won the Dubai Tour in 2014, and earned three victories in the National Time Trial Championships in 2010, ’14 and ’16. Phinney was also a member of the U.S. Olympic team for the 2012 games in London (pictured above). He participated in the time trial (his specialty as a sprinter) and the road race, just missing medaling by earning fourth place in both events.
The Boulder native comes from a decorated cycling family. His father, Davis Phinney, is a two-time stage winner at the Tour de France, the winner of the 1988 Coors Classic, and 1984 olympian for the United States. The elder Phinney is also the winningest cyclist in United States history with 328 race victories.
Overall in the Tour, the British “Team Sky” have a commanding lead in the team event with BMC Racing Team of the United States trailing by 1 minute and 59 seconds. Individual leader Christopher Froome and second-place rider Geraint Thomas lead the Team Sky through the first six stages.
The race will continue for the next three days before the first rest day on July 10. Phinney and Talansky will look to keep Cannondale-Drapac in the top tier of the team event as the race continues throughout the month of July.