Andrew Talansky stopped just after the finish line in La Toussuire following stage 19 on Friday and leaned over his bike for several minutes as he tried to fight the pain of yet another day in the Alps at the Tour de France.
The Cannondale-Garmin rider went on the attack again during the stage in pursuit of stage victory. It was his third consecutive day of aggression but he was still determined to give it a go. He ensured he was part of the 24-rider moved that formed early and then fought all the way to the finish in La Toussuire as he tried to move up into the top 10 of the overall classification.
He finished 12th on the stage, 4:17 behind stage winner Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and so moved up one place to 11th, 18:25 down on leader Chris Froome (Team Sky). With only the 110km mountain stage to L’Alpe d’Huez remaining, Talansky is a tantalising 58 seconds from 10th place held by Pierre Rolland (Europcar). With Tejay van Garderen (BMC) out of the race, Talansky is also defending US pride.
“It was full-gas racing, everything was blown to bits early on the Croix de Fer,” Talansky explained after recovering but still clearly fatigued. “It was full on from there, and I’m sure that continued up at the front on the last climb. I was just riding as hard as I could up to the finish.”
Talansky had a tough first part of the Tour de France. He lost time in the crosswinds on stage two and on the uphill finishes on the Mur de Huy and Mûr de Bretagne. Like teammate Dan Martin, he also suffered on the first mountain stage to La Pierre-Saint-Martin, losing more than 11 minutes to Chris Froome. However, he refused to be beaten by this year’s tough Tour de France route and the heat, attacking whenever the road has kicked up in the Pyrenees.
On the stage to Pra-Loup he finished a painful second behind lone attacker Simon Geschke (Giant-Alpecin) but refused to give up, attacking again on stage 18 and again today.
“I’m happy with the effort I’ve made during the third week of the Tour,” he said. “Obviously I came here with some higher GC aspirations, but those didn’t pan out for a few reasons. I’m glad I’m still giving all I have in this third week to try to get a result on a stage or to make a move up on GC. I want to pay the team back for all of the work they did for me in the first half of the race.”
Despite his obvious fatigue, Talansky promised more aggression and a last roll of the dice on the stage to L’Alpe d’Huez.
“I’m not going to say that I’m going to miraculously win the stage and beat Chris Froome, Quintana and Contador, but I’m going to give everything that I have until the very last stage of the Tour de France,” he said.
“Alpe d’Huez is actually my favourite memory from the 2013 Tour, so I’m really looking forward to it.”