Taylor Phinney announces retirement seeking to create and cultivate in his life beyond the bike
29-year-old teases an enduro race might be in his future and concedes that his passion for art has won out over his desire to keep racing pro
American Taylor Phinney has announced that he will retire from professional cycling at the end of the 2019 season. The 29-year-old made his professional debut in 2011 with the BMC Racing Team before moving to Jonathan Vaughters’ EF Education First Pro Cycling team in 2017. Before a career-threatening crash at the 2014 American national road championships, the super talented Phinney looked destined for success at the highest level of the sport. During the rehabilitation from his injuries, Phinney’s pursuit and passion for his personal art and projects gave him room to develop into one of the sports most interesting personalities.
“At some point, you don’t want to just be lining up for races to finish them,” Phinney said in an EF Education First press release about his decision to retire. “It’s time to take that energy and put it into something fresh, something new, something unknown. I’m stepping away so that I can be more true to myself, which means to make art, to make music, to create and cultivate. I’ve kind of had one foot in the sports pool and then one foot in the art pool, and art just won at some point.”
Born to former pro cyclist and Olympic medalist Davis Phinney and former Olympic gold-medal winning cyclist and speed skater Connie Carpenter-Phinney, Phinney had cycling in his blood from an early age with promise of success at the highest level of the sport. Upon retiring, Phinney’s career highlights include wearing the pink jersey at the 2012 Giro d’Italia after winning the opening prologue, fourth in the 2012 London Olympic road race and ITT, three American ITT titles and eighth in a redeeming ride at the 2018 edition of Paris-Roubaix, a race Phinney looked destined to win before his injury.
“Talent is nothing without work ethic, and work ethic comes from genuine passion for what you’re doing,” Phinney said about the sky-high expectations for his career. “And if you are constantly forcing your work ethic because your passion is elsewhere, then potential and talent mean nothing. And if there’s anything that I can take away from the sport of cycling it’s that, you can be as talented as you want, but if you don’t wake up every morning and you don’t want that thing, it doesn’t matter. I think that there’s a lot of power in recognizing that you don’t have the genuine passion for the thing that you’re doing anymore.”
Phinney described racing the US Pro Challenge through his home town of Boulder and helping Alberto Bettiol win the Tour of Flanders in 2019 two of the lasting memories from his pro career. As for whether Phinney will ever line-up for a pro race again, he teased maybe a return to competition but in a drastically difference discipline.
“You may or may not see me in an enduro race next year. If I’m going to race anything, it’s going to be that. I just want to shred, you know? I was born into a cycling family, but I really fell in love with sport through freestyle skiing,” he said.