Davis Phinney (born July 10, 1959 in Boulder, Colorado) is a former professional road bicycle racer from the United States. He was a brazen sprinter and the star of the 7-Eleven Cycling Team in the 1980s and early ’90s, and is the leader in race victories by an American, with 328. In 1986, he became the second American to win a stage at the Tour de France, while riding for American-based 7-Eleven. His racing career spanned two decades and included two stage victories in the Tour de France, a United States National Road Race Championships title, and the 1984 Olympic Bronze Medal in the Men's 100 km Team Time Trial along with Ron Kiefel, Roy Knickman, and Andrew Weaver.
Since retiring from cycling, Davis has remained active as a cycling sports commentator, public speaker, journalist, and avid Nordic ski racer. He is married to champion cyclist Connie Carpenter-Phinney, with whom he has two children, Taylor and Kelsey. On Thursday, August 9, 2007, Taylor became the Junior World Time Trial champion at the 2007 UCI Junior World Road and Track Championships held in Aguascalientes, Mexico, and on September 29, 2010, he became the 2010 UCI Under 23 World Time Trial champion.
Davis was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease at the age of 40, and established the Davis Phinney Foundation in 2004, a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The Boulder, Colorado-based foundation is dedicated to improving the lives of people with Parkinson's disease – today and in the future.
The Davis Phinney Foundation aims to inspire and inform people living with Parkinson’s through:
Phinney has looked to his son for inspiration and as a source of energy in his battle with Parkinson's. Before the 2008 Summer Olympics, where Taylor would compete in the men's individual pursuit, Davis told Juliet Macur of the New York Times:
“I could easily slip into a very, very dark place with everything I’ve lost, so I have to focus on the pinpricks of light to stay positive,” he said. “But with Taylor, it’s easier. I just look at what he has been doing, and I’m instantly connected to a magnificent source of energy.”
As Taylor was about to go to the Beijing Olympics late in 2008, Davis underwent deep brain stimulation in an effort to control some of his symptoms. Dr. Jaimie Henderson, a neurosurgeon at Stanford University Medical Center, implanted two electrodes 2.5 inches into either side of Phinney's brain, powered by a pacemaker in his chest. According to ESPN, the procedure was risky and not promising, but worked instantly. Phinney explained:
The doctor said, 'OK, let's try a little current now, and just like that, all these muscles that had been at war with each other suddenly were at peace. It was like Armistice Day. It was just like, 'Oh … my … god!' I looked at my wife and she was crying. She said, 'I haven't seen your smile in a year!'
Unfortunately for Davis Phinney, the disease is setting in again. Doctors told him the brain pacemaker could turn the clock back on the progress of Parkinson's five years. But nearly five years have passed since the surgery, and while Phinney doesn't shake like he used to, his balance is severely compromised.