Olympic cyclist Taylor Phinney finished dead last in the penultimate stage of the Tirenno-Adriatico race on Monday. He finished in 109th place to be exact, but that isn't the whole story.
The race organizer admitted later that the stage was too difficult with a 27 percent climb so steep that some riders got off their bikes and pushed them uphill.
Phinney's bike chain broke, but he chased his way up to rejoin the main group of cyclists. With about 80 miles left, Phinney was in a group of riders that began discussing dropping out of the race, which is more common than you might think.
Not Phinney, though. The rest of the group quit the race, but he kept pedalling on in the rain. The son of Olympian Davis Phinney who lives with Parkinson's disease, Phinney said remembering his father's struggles kept him in the fight.
Phinney didn't qualify to race in the final time trial on Tuesday, but it didn't matter. "I knew that if my dad could be in my shoes for one day—if all he had to do was struggle on a bike for six hours, but be healthy and fully functional—he would be me on that day in a heartbeat," Taylor Phinney said. "Every time I wanted to quit, every time I wanted to cry, I just thought about that."
His father didn't find out until later about his son's race, he said to him in an email, "You make me so happy and beyond proud—and that is better than any medicine and can defeat any disease."