Cannondale-Drapac have announced its squad for the Tour of California with Taylor Phinney and Andrew Talansky leading the predominately American team at its 'home race'. Both riders have had limited race days thus far in 2017 with Phinney sidelined by concussion and Talansky becoming a father.
Talanksy, fourth overall at last year's race, will be leading the team's general classification and is aiming high in the inaugural WorldTour edition of the stage race.
"The goal for me is to get the best GC placing possible. That said, with the team we have going, much like last year, we aren't going to sit around and wait for the last few days," Talansky said. "We have numerous riders who can win stages and maybe take the jersey in doing so early on. We won't be sitting back and waiting. You will definitely see the team racing aggressively from the beginning of the week.
Talanksy's last race on American soil was at the Tour of Utah where he won a stage and finished third overall. The 28-year-old is hoping for similar results on his return to North American racing as he explained.
"I'm feeling good, the last few weeks since returning from Europe have been smooth. I’m feeling fit and ready to race," Talansky said. "The Amgen Tour of California is the biggest stage race in the USA and it just happens to be in my adopted home state. I would love to be able to pull off a great result in front of family and friends."
In his bid for the GC, Talansky will be able to call upon the likes of Alberto Bettiol, Nate Brown, Brendan Canty, and compatriot Lawson Craddock for when the roads head uphill.
For the three remaining riders named in the squad, Phinney, Skujins and Wouter Wippert, their focus will be on stage wins. For Phinney, the main aim is the stage 6 time trial which he will he contest in the stars 'n' stripes skinsuit.
"It took about four weeks to fully recover to start really training again. I feel fortunate that I had the patience to do that, and the team had the patience in me to be able to do that," Phinney said of his recovery from his crash at the Tour of Flanders. "I've been training now for almost two weeks, and I feel pretty decent. I'm always stoked to go to California because it's just fun to race in America. I'm feeling great about it."
"A time trial at altitude. I'd like to do well there. I feel like I have a pretty good opportunity to bang out a result," he added. "That's my main focus for the week. It would be great if we could win some stages. Maybe win the overall."
For Skujins, the aim is to continue his two-year stage winning streak at the race but wouldn't be drawn on naming which day he would target for success.
"We've got a real strong team here that's for sure. I believe we can challenge for every stage and the GC, and I'm sure we'll do our best to make the racing enjoyable for the spectators," Skujins said. "For myself I'd just like to put on an exciting race as I do every year here, but always as it fits into the team plans. We can spring some surprises on any day."
Tom Southam will be the lead director for Cannondale-Drapac at the race and believes the squad can end it's two-year drought of WorldTour success.
"It's a really nice team, packed full of talented guys; some of America's best, no less. These guys are at home and we are a home team," Southam said. "They should be extremely motivated for this race, and when you are motivated then the results arrive. I like our odds."
Cannondale-Drapac for the 2017Tour of California: Alberto Bettiol (Ita), Nate Brown (USA), Brendan Canty (Aus), Lawson Craddock (USA), Taylor Phinney (USA), Toms Skujins (Lva), Andrey Talansky (USA), and Wouter Wippert (Ned).