GREENVILLE, S.C. Former cycling star Davis Phinney remembers a time, not too long ago, when he was certain his son Taylor would never ride a bike competitively.
That changed, the older Phinney said, when father and son caught the Tour de France in 2005.
It kind of opened his eyes, Davis Phinney said.
These days, the younger Phinney is the 20-year-old rising star of U.S. cycling, a tall, strong rider equally adept on the track and the roads.
He the reigning USA Cycling time trial champ, a title hell defend today at the national pro championships.
Phinney also is entered in Mondays 115-mile road race as he continues a trek toward the 2012 London Olympics.
Some may have even larger aspirations for Phinney: bringing a fresh, clean face to a sport that has an image severely tarnished.
I dont feel a whole lot of pressure on myself. Theres only so much I can do, he said.
All I can do is go out and do the best I can and get the results I need to get. Just focus on staying positive and keeping a good outlook on the sport.
Thats been difficult the past week or so, ever since Lance Armstrongs ex-teammate Tyler Hamilton told 60 Minutes he witnessed the seven-time Tour de France winner take performance-enhancing drugs before or during the 1999, 2000 and 2001 tours while part of the U.S. Postal team. Armstrong has denied Hamiltons claims and always maintained his innocence.
The CBS program also reported that Armstrongs close friend, George Hincapie, told federal investigators he and Armstrong supplied each other with performance-enhancing drugs. Hincapie said last week he did not know where 60 Minutes got its information.
On Friday, he didnt want to discuss the allegations.
It has been on my mind, but I like to focus on the good things in my life, and there are a lot of those, Hincapie said.
Hincapie believes good days are ahead for American cycling with Phinney and several other young riders competing this weekend. Right now, Phinneys at the forefront of that peleton.
Phinney won world individual pursuit titles in 2009 and 2010 to go along with several national championships, all at an age when most people havent selected a college major yet.
Its a drive Davis Phinney said his sons always had.
In the Phinney family, who could blame him?
Davis won two stages of the Tour de France among his 300 victories, which includes the 1991 national road race. His new book, The Happiness of Pursuit, is due out Wednesday.
Taylors mother is Olympic cycling gold medalist Connie Carpenter-Phinney, also a speed skater who at 14 became the youngest American woman to compete in the Winter Olympics in 1972.
One thing thats clearly unique at Taylor is that he puts more pressure on himself, Davis Phinney said. He doesnt take on external pressure.
Taylor is also not one to abandon friends during hard times.
Armstrong was an idol of Phinneys growing up and a mentor of his racing career. Taylor was part of Armstrongs under-23 Trek-Livestrong team for several seasons.
Hes always been very generous to me, Taylor said.
As far as the allegations against Armstrong? I have no idea what went on the in the past. Still hoping for the best, Phinney said. Hes never given me a reason to doubt him.
To Taylor, Armstrong is the same person as always, The guy who sits around drinking a beer and watches football, Phinney said.
Phinney is not the only promising young American in cycling. Ben King, Phinneys former Trek-Livestrong teammate, won the road race last year at age 21 with a startling solo breakaway, becoming the youngest U.S. champion in history.
Taylor had won the time trial, and we had something to celebrate already, King said. Then to go solo to the finish line was a little bit overwhelming, to be honest.
Phinney has a choice to make before the years out. Hes pointing to the London Games, but isnt yet sure if hell compete in track events or road races or both.
Well see. Its something thats on my mind but something I havent made a decision about, he said. But I am preparing my end of the year schedule to set me up for next year.
And that could set up him as the face of U.S. cycling.
Hes had a great early run, Davis Phinney said. Hopefully, it will continue for a long time.