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Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) struggled to make the time cut on stage 11, riding alone for 90km.
Garmin-Sharp man happy with supporting role at Vuelta a España
Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) began the Tour de France aspiring to place on the podium and ended it utterly alone on the road to Oyonnox in week two, half an hour off the rear of the peloton. A brace of crashes had left him with an inflammation of the sacroiliac joint and after battling to the finish of stage 11 just inside the time limit, he abandoned the race that evening.
Five weeks on, Talansky returns to action at the Vuelta a España and has already placed his ordeal at the Tour in its proper perspective. Having finished in the top 10 at his debut there in 2013, the Garmin-Sharp man saw the other side of the coin this time around. Each moment has simply been deposited amid the wealth of experiences good and bad that a young professional amasses.
“I think it’s an experience that anybody who plans to ride for the podium in the Tour almost needs to have. You need to see what it’s like,” Talansky told Cyclingnews. “I had a good experience at the Tour last year, now I’ve had an experience where the Tour got thrown out the window, where every preconceived notion and goal you have is gone. You leave the Tour and it’s gone, you know.
“But it’s good because you get tougher mentally from it and you understand that it can happen. It can happen to me, it can happen to Chris Froome, it can happen to Alberto Contador, it can happen to anybody any year in the Tour.”
There is a certain irony, perhaps, that Talansky’s ordeal on the road to Oyonnox seemed to make more of an impression on the general public than his 10th place finish in 2013, but then a rider is never more human than in his suffering.
“What I took the most heart from is that it was such a terrible experience for me, but people found inspiration in that. People found something good that came from something so bad,” Talansky said. “It wasn’t my intention in doing that, but it really helped me leave the Tour in a better place than I would otherwise have done.”
Since the shift to its current early Autumn date in 1995, the Vuelta has repeatedly presented itself as a shot at redemption for those who fell short in July. Indeed, this year, both Chris Froome (Sky) and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) line up aiming to make amends for their truncated Tours, but for Talansky, the race is more of a stepping stone towards 2015.
“The easier, more fun option would have been to race the Tour of Colorado but you need a Grand Tour in your legs every year to keep improving and I only made it halfway through the Tour,” Talansky said. “With 2015 in mind, getting through this race is the first step in building for the Tour next year, that’s really the goal. I know that you need to do a grand tour.”
A marked feature of the build-up to this Vuelta has been the overall favourites’ reluctance to state their ambitions overtly, but Talansky insists that he is not being coy when he says that he is Spain to perform a supporting role for Dan Martin and Ryder Hesjedal, both of whom skipped the Tour.
“I got to go to the Tour and the team supported me there but Dan Martin and Ryder Hesjedal have been focused on this race since the Giro so I’m here and I’m happy to support them,” Talansky said. “These guys have been focused on the Vuelta since the Giro, so you can’t really put a limit on what they can do.”
Given his five-week lay-off from racing and low-key return to training, Talansky has no personal ambitions before the Vuelta’s opening rest day next Monday. The individual time trial the following day will be an interesting gauge of his progress, but even beyond that, he was adamant that team duties will precedent.
“I’m happy that I was fit and healthy enough to start the race,” Talansky said. “Personally in the second half of the race I’ll be getting better and obviously I’ll go hard in both time trials. If I have the opportunity for a stage win then I’ll take that, but I’m here to support our leaders.”