Taylor Phinney did not one but two class acts on stage five from Lodi to South Lake Tahoe and the ski resort of Heavenly.
First he did his damn best on the front of the peloton to chase down the breakaway for what seemed like an hour. It was probably less but the effort was all in, 110% for his teammate Greg Van Avermaet who hoped to win the stage.
That kind of empty-the-tank attitude is what teamwork is all about. There’s a nice flat time trial tomorrow in Folsom and Phinney would probably like to put on a show against the clock but his personal performance target had nothing to do with his hard work on the front. Chapeau to Phinney and given his well developed sense of style, we’re sure he’ll pick a good cool one.
His second class act occurred shortly after the stage and had nothing to do with power outputs and wattage in the service of others. His work for team BMC done, Phinney rode to the Jelly Belly mobile home to check on his friend and fellow Boulder, Colorado resident Lachlan Morton.
Sadly, Morton had to abandon the Tour of California after giving it a go this morning. He had crashed heavily at the end of stage four into Laguna Seca and his top objective for the season was gone. He’d hoped to impress some WorldTour teams on the big stage in Cali but it wasn’t to be. He had road rash along the entire left side of his body but he also smacked his head and was still feeling out of sorts.
So Phinney wheeled over to offer his support, condolences and mostly his abundant sense of humor to Morton. It was much appreciated and probably the only time on Thursday when Morton smiled. It was nice to see that kind of empathy from a top pro athlete.
Phinney had come a long way back and among the many things he has learned is to appreciate life outside the sport and get his priorities firmly in line.
We’re hoping Phinney lays down an awesome TT tomorrow and gives Rohan Dennis a run for the money but in our book he won stage five twice over.