Taylor Phinney, the golden boy of American cycling, has suffered a catastrophic setback in his quest to become the first American man to win both the U.S. time trial and road race championships in the same season. As VeloNews reports, the 23-year-old suffered a broken leg after crashing on Monday at the USA Cycling Professional Road Race championships in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Phinney, who rides for BMC Racing, underwent surgery on Monday evening to repair a compound fracture of the left tibia and fibula.
Although crashes in professional cycling are common occurrences, Monday's incident is drawing greater scrutiny because an official race vehicle might have been responsible for Phinney's accident. Phinney and Lucas Euser of UnitedHealthcare were on their first descent of Lookout Mountain (45 kilometers into the 166.7-kilometer race) and going "Mach 10" according Garmin-Sharp's Tom Danielson, whom they passed in their furious downhill spurt. At a sharp left turn, the pair caught up to a lead motorcycle, causing them to split off in opposite directions in a desperate attempt to avoid a collision. Euser went right, while Phinney went inside left and slammed into the guardrail.
Euser suffered only a minor elbow wound and stayed with Phinney after the crash.
"We came into that left-hander really fast, and [Taylor] caught the lead moto. The moto got these wobbles, and it took Taylor on the inside of the corner. And there was nothing he could do. When you go on the inside of that corner that fast, you're going down," Euser said.
USAC spokesman Bill Kellick wrote that "there was no contact between any rider and any vehicle," and that the ultimate cause of the crash was still being investigated. The identity of the motorcycle driver has not been released.