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A look at the school, the races and the future of this unique 'sport'
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Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp)
American sits fourth overall but feet remain on the ground
The American opened his eight-day race with a fine ride in the opening time trial in Lyon and backed up that performance with an assured and mature performance on the stage 2 battle on the slopes of the Col du Béal.
It was Froome who came home to take back-to-back stages with his main rival Alberto Contador second. However Talansky claimed a solid fifth place and now sits ahead of the likes of Vincenzo Nibali, Michal Kwiatkowski and Tejay van Garderen in the overall standings.
“Today isn’t typically my speciality early on in a race with just one climb. It’s usually a lot better for me if it’s repetitively hard and when people are tired but I’m really happy with how today went. I think I’ll be a little bit better for Saturday’s stage,” Talansky said at the finish.
The American was initially dropped on the final climb after Froome blew apart the group with a vicious attack with over five kilometres remaining. However he clawed his way back up to an elite leading group that contained Contador, Froome, Nibali, Jurgen Van Den Broeck and Wilco Kelderman.
“I did [get dropped] but that wasn’t so much the effort as positioning. These people fight and I understand that we’re in race but you have guys who fight tooth and nail and then they don’t have it when then first acceleration comes. That opens up a gap so instead of putting myself in the red I and one of the IAM guys just rode back up there. They were start-stopping so I could ride my own temp and we picked up Nibali along the way.”
With the lead group forming, Talansky looked to set an even tempo, preferring that to the stuttering pace that Froome and Contador imposed on the rest. He even moved clear and forced Froome to chase at one point.
Talansky was unable to follow Froome’s final kick for the line but he was still pleased with his stage ride and the Garmin rider - tenth in last year’s Tour de France – remains grounded about his chances in the race.
“Contador and Froome are on a different level. This is their race and we’re all along for the ride essentially. It’s the same for the Tour de France. It’s going to make for an exciting Tour but you have to be realistic and those guys have shown time and time again that they’re on a different level from everyone at the moment.
“Behind those two and Nibali, who has won the Giro, there is definitely an opening. After those guys you have an opening and it’s wide open.”
At the start of the stage Cyclingnews spoke to Talansky as he put the finishing touches to his pre-race preparations. The time trial on stage one showed that the American is moving towards top form at the right time but perhaps his best asset – form and fitness aside – is his mature approach to both his racing and the ambitions placed on his shoulders ahead of the Tour.
“Yesterday showed that my form is good. The time trial was a balanced course and that’s more on par with where I should be. I felt good on the TT bike and there haven’t been too many opportunities to do them this year so it’s a nice one to put in the bank before the Tour starts,” he told Cyclingnews.
“My goal this year is just to improve on last year. I’m at the point in my career where I just need to focus on my ride and I don’t need to be concerned with what Froome or Contador or doing. I need to focus on myself and the ride that I’m doing. That’s the important thing and that’s the best way to keep things realistic and to keep your feet on the ground.”