published Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

Cyclist Taylor Phinney seriously injured in Lookout Mountain road race accident (video, slideshow)

BMC Racing’s Taylor Phinney, winner of the USA Cycling men’s time trial championship Saturday in Chattanooga, was injured coming down Lookout Mountain in the national road race championship Monday.

Phinney crashed hard on a left-hand turn on the descent following the first of four climbs of Lookout Mountain and was taken to Erlanger hospital for treatment, according to BMC press officer Sean Weide.

Weide later released a statement for BMC saying that Phinney broke his left leg in two places and injured his knee. Phinney was transported to Erlanger, where he underwent surgery Monday night involving his tibia and fibula.

BMC Racing Team chief medical officer Dr. Max Testa was overseeing Phinney’s treatment.

The rider had been planning to compete in France at the Critérium du Dauphiné next month and was aiming to be a part of the BMC Racing Team’s squad for the Tour de France in July.

Details of the accident were unclear Monday night, although there were reports that a motorcycle race official may have been nearby when the accident happened.

Speed paces

Former Formula One and NASCAR driver Scott Speed knows good racing when he sees it.

The Andretti Autosport rally car driver was in Chattanooga this weekend to watch the USA Cycling Professional Road and Time Trial Championships, and on Monday morning he drove a Volkswagen Beetle with his rally car’s colors as the pace car for the women’s road race.

“Volkswagen is newly into rallycross and newly with Andretti, so it’s a new relationship that we’re starting,” he said. “It’s already proven be really cool because I’m an avid cyclist and get to come to cool races like this.”

Speed, who will be taking part in the X Games soon, said that there is a common thread between what he does and the racing done by the elite men and women bike racers.

“It’s all racing, and it’s the same but it’s different,” he said. “We’re all competitors ultimately; we just find the discipline that we’re the best at.”

After racing in Europe as well as the Carolina-based Sprint Cup world, Speed said he found Chattanooga to be an amazing experience.

“I love it. I had no idea this place was here,” he said. “I lived in Europe in Austria for five years and moved from there to Charlotte, which was quite a big culture shock. And I come here and it reminds me so much of Europe — it’s crazy. I really love it here and I’ve had a really great time.”

Speed was joined in the pace car by Tim Johnson, former U.S. cyclocross champion, also in town because of the sponsorship of VW.

“For me it’s great, because Volkswagen is a big sponsor for what I do in cyclocross,” he said. “Being an ambassador for them, it’s really cool to be able to come here and not have to suffer up the climbs.”

Drone patrol

There was a helicopter getting pictures for the streaming video Monday at the USA Cycling pro road race championships, but that wasn’t the only eye in the sky.

The video drone owned by the Girls’ Preparatory School was taking photos of the crowd gathered on the North Shore to help estimate the number of fans lining the roads in those areas.

Photos taken by the drone will help the local cycling survey team as they work to quantify the impact of events such as the U.S. cycling championships, which completed their second year of a three-year contract in Chattanooga

Local survey team member Jim Frierson said the drone was being flown by GPS network administrator Christopher Twombley and the initial photos taken were great and would help the survey team’s work.

“So far they’ve used it only above GPS airspace, primarily for privacy reasons,” Frierson said. “But my logic for this is this is a massive public event so nobody expects privacy on [Market Street] or on Frazier Avenue.”

University of Texas researcher Angeline Close is conducting the survey of attendees to the cycling championships as local organizers look to build support and generate more funding for this and other large sporting events.

“What she’s trying to do is make the case so [organizers] could go to the Tennessee tourism and get the kind of sponsorship that Georgia put into the Tour de Georgia,” Frierson said. “… This survey will help us make that case.”

Contact Jim Tanner at jtanner@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6478.

about Jim Tanner...

Jim Tanner has worked as assistant sports editor at the Times Free Press since late 2006. He started at the Times Free Press in 2001 and worked as a news copy/design editor from 2001 through 2006. In addition to working as a night and weekend editor producing local and national sports coverage for print and online readers, Jim occasionally writes local sports and outdoors stories. Jim grew up in Ringgold, Ga., and is a graduate ...

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