On Taylor Phinney Being Time Cut in Tirreno-Adriatico

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Yesterday at the Tirreno-Adriatico, Taylor Phinney was time cut after finishing 35+ minutes behind Peter Sagan. This was a 209 Km stage that had over 10000 feet of climbing. He said, “This parcours was quite literally the hardest parcours of a stage in a stage race I’ve ever seen, much less ridden.”No climb was longer than 2km, yet over 10000 feet of climbing in total. It was like a mix between Amstel and Liege but after racing for 200km everyday for five days straight.” The stage had 18 climbs, nothing over a few kms long, but the climbs started early and never ended. It was a stage where after the finish, race director Michele Acquarone tweeted, “Many of you enjoyed it, but it was too much. We lost the right balance…if you lose half your peloton, you just have to be honest and learn from mistakes.” Over 50 riders quit the stage.

The weather was hard too. Wet, most riders wearing their rain jackets all race. And the grupetto pulled the plug at less than 90km from the start, so Taylor had to do the better part of 4 hours by himself, in the rain. And then the officials go and enforce what must have been a 10% time cut rule. WTF? I say 10% because the stage was won by Peter Sagan in 5:45, so at 6 minutes per hour, the time cut must have been around 34 minutes and 30 seconds. I’d read somewhere than Taylor maybe finished 37 minutes back, but I don’t have an exact number.

But, regardless of how far he finished behind, the officials blew it when they pulled him from the race. The time cut rule is not cut in stone. The rule has a built-in fudge factor that can, and should be applied when the conditions are extreme. And obviously these conditions were severe. They very easily could have extended the time cut to 15 or even 20% due to the extenuating circumstances. They do it all the time for heat in other races. Plus, there is only a 9 km time trial left to race, so it isn’t like you are starting a bunch of super worn out guys on another 200 km plus day, having the field stretched out for hours on the road.

One of our problems in the sport of cycling is that our official, many times, are not professional. Of course, that isn’t always the case, but many officials now, have never raced bicycles, so they don’t understand what is actually happening out there on the road. I’m not saying that to be a good official, it is a mandatory prerequisite to have raced bicycles, but it does give the official a good understanding of the sport from a competitors point of view. A perfectly run bike race is one that the officials have to do nothing other than score the final results. That is the race that riders prefer.

Kicking Taylor out of Tirreno did nothing for the race. It was a subjective call, not a rule enforcement. All it did was not allow him to race the final time trial today, which was one of his main goals of the week. The officials and the promoter of the race, owe Taylor a huge apology for making a colossal blunder in how to enforce the time cut rule.

Rides like what Taylor did on stage 6 is what we, as cycling fans, are looking for when following the sport. Only losing 37 minutes in 6 hours, in those conditions, riding by yourself is definitely not something to be kicked out of a race for. It’s not only what happens up front in a bike race that shows what the race was all about. It is the super human efforts like this that define a rider. Congratulations Taylor for doing just that.


20 thoughts on “On Taylor Phinney Being Time Cut in Tirreno-Adriatico

  1. Tad Cheswick

    What you fail to address, Steve, is what kind of egg will be on the officials’ face when the re-instate a guy for finishing 35 minutes down and the next day he comes back to win the final stage. That’s not going to fly.

  2. Robb Holland

    Tad what you fail to address is a guy who just did 6 hours solo off the back of the field, is not going to win the time trial the next day

  3. channel_zero

    Meh. The head of the organization had the courage to call the stage out as not good. It was a nice display of youthful dedication, though not a wise thing to do as a professional.

    Mini Phinney lives to fight another day. I just hope he’s not doping.

  4. Wildcat

    I want to start by saying I totally agree with you about how Taylor should NOT have been DQ’d. But in general, I think being a referee/umpire/official for any sport at any level is incredibly difficult. I have done some racing and officiating. I agree that most times officials don’t understand what actually goes on out there on the road. And maybe more important, officials lots of times don’t understand how much time/effort/money/pain each racer has already sacraficed just to get himself to the starting line that day. However, I also think that most bike racers don’t understand what it takes to officiate a bike race. Out of all the races I’ve helped officiate I have not once simply done nothing other than score the final results. That would be a blessing. Just once I would like to witness one bike race without any bitching and whining from someone. But then again, from a rider’s perspective – that’s hard to come by because not only is there so much at stake that race day – each rider has already used up so many rescources in order to simply get there. As a racer you just want whatever unfolded that day to be correct and fair. Plain and simple. I get that, but it’s not always that easy. From my experience it’s MUCH easier to race than officiate. When you slam your post-race snack and grab for that cold IPA is when the officials are working the hardest. Anyway, just my opinion that it goes both ways – you’re a fair guy, I’m sure you understand to err is human. But like I said, in this case Taylor being DQ’d is total BS.

  5. Bryan

    Ah, you beat me to the punch. Short of a major catastrophe, 35 minutes is not going to be made over 9km – I don’t care how good of a time trialer you are.

  6. Cupcake

    Disagree. ‘Tis a contradiction calling for officials to be more professional by fudging the time cuts. Rules are rules. Race bikes hard, don’t make mistakes, and learn from the outcome.

  7. Earl

    Tad is right on. Phinney could very well have won the final time trial. Finishing outside the time cut and not getting DQ’d would have been worse for the organizers and it would have made Phinney look stupid.

    This way Tyler gets his hero story and we all get to feel for him. He’s young and his days as a pro are just beginning.

  8. Sean YD

    Oh really, Robb? You obviously didn’t watch the Tour de France the past couple years when Mark Cavendish did precisely the same thing?

    Bryan: I’m only talking about winning the stage, not the race overall. Duh.

  9. Mike Rodose

    It’s simple, but Cycling officials make it complex. A better system.k

    It’s 10% for the Time Cut. Always. But….perhaps a tiered, significant Time Penalty for those that finish between 10%- 19% off the winning time. But they can continue. 20% and you’re Cut.

  10. jt

    Reminded of uphill time trial at the Killington Stage race, where 30 or 40 riders would have been cut on first stage, including me. So officials changed criteria……with me being last guy left in race.

  11. Sean YD

    It is not always 10 percent for the time cut, Mike. The percentage varies by the difficulty of the stage.

  12. Ironic

    Steve Tilford, the man who is all for bending rules when it benefits his wallet. His wife works for Floyd’s old blood doping network and when a rule is applied to someone who could affect his bottom line, he’s opposed to it. Classic.

  13. tilford97 Post author

    Ironic-Do you think that Taylor finishing Tirrento would benefit me in some way financial? Wow. I’d like to see how you fit those puzzle pieces together.

    I’m opposed to an arbitrary 10% time limit rule when the conditions of the day dictate that the time limit be extended. I’ve race more than enough bike races to understand what is fair and unfair in this sport. The rule they applied to Taylor and his ride was totally unjust and someone at the event should have addressed it appropriately. It is irrelevant what team he rides for.

  14. Just Crusty

    Ironic, have you been this guy Phinney? Although he is a guy with some favorable genetic traits, he has succeeded by working darned hard. He’s a good kid that works hard, nothing more, nothing less.

    Mr. Tilford is simply pointing out that in his experience the rules are a unfair or are applied unfairly to some competitors. We notice it when the competitor is a high profile athlete, as is Mr. Phinney. But regardless of the profile, the rules should be fair and should be applied fairly to all athletes.

    Mr. Tilford simply has the benefit of more years’ experience than do you or I. Personally, I need to study a little more to understand the appropriate rules and their application.

  15. Just Crusty

    I was trying to say “the rules can seem to be unfair or seem to be unfairly applied”.

  16. Terri Thater

    I wonder how much exposure the Hincapie logo on Phinney’s rain jacket was worth to the company that no longer makes BMC’s kit. Surely it enraged Pearl Izumi, which is partially owned by Davis Phinney.


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