Fresh from completing his first grand tour, Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Cervélo) is ready to test himself once again in the individual time trial at the UCI Road World Championships in Copenhagen on Wednesday.
"If I get out there and find that I’m recovered from the Vuelta then I do expect a decent result for myself because there’s no reason not to," Talansky told Cyclingnews at the American team hotel in Gentofte on Tuesday evening. "I’m going to go and ride as hard as I can, but what that ends up being, I’m not sure."
After testing the circuit on Monday and Tuesday, Talansky acknowledged that the course was not ideally tailored to his characteristics and expects the rainbow jersey to come down to slugging match between the heavyweight pairing of Fabian Cancellara and Tony Martin.
"I hope one day that there’s a Worlds where there’s a few k of climbing on each lap, a 3k-4k climb, just something to break it up. That would be my ideal course," Talansky said. "This is more classic Worlds TT – big open roads, super-high average speed and for big power guys like Tony Martin and Fabian Cancellara, Taylor Phinney. There’s about 4k on each lap that’s more technical but really, whoever is the strongest rider is going to win."
A neo-professional would be forgiven for feeling somewhat apprehensive on the eve of a time trial in such lofty company, but following his assured displays over the course of the season, Talansky is looking forward to the challenge.
"It’s really not daunting as I’ve been racing these guys all year, and not only that, in stage races, I’ve beaten some of them and been close to the others," he pointed out. "Just knowing that has given me a different mental confidence this year and that helps in time trialling. When you believe, you can go out and post a good result. If you know the suffering is for a purpose and you’re going to do something good then it’s a lot easier to do it."
Indeed, Talansky pinpointed motivation as one of the most decisive factors in the event, which comes at the end of a season which for many riders began in mid-January. He also noted that he has emerged from the Vuelta physically and mentally fresher than he did from the Tour de l’Avenir 12 months ago, and is hopeful of improving on his showing in the under 23 time trial in Geelong last year.
"It’s the Worlds and in theory everybody who gets a ride in the Worlds time trial should be motivated and ready to race, but at this time of the year, you do have guys who are tired and motivation can easily wane if you’re not feeling good on the day," Talansky noted. "I actually feel a lot better coming into this Worlds time trial than last year when after Tour de l’Avenir, I was completely exhausted. I had the slot for the Worlds time trial but my form was coming down and my body was not very ready to race at that time."
Learning at the Vuelta
The affable Talansky arrives in Denmark after undergoing a crucial rite of passage for any professional rider – the completion of his first grand tour. In a Vuelta a España marked by soaring speeds, Talansky quickly learned to break the race "into little sections" and focus on getting to Madrid.
Ironically, his toughest day came neither in the searing heat of Andalucia in week one nor on the slopes of the Angliru, but on the race’s penultimate stage to Vitoria. "The most frustrating one for me was stage 20, my body had just had enough," he recalled. "Feeling that bad on a hard stage but knowing I was so close to the finish was pretty tough.
"I’d never done something like that it so you don’t know what’s going to happen, maybe if you get dropped on a climb early you might not finish. But I said ‘no way after suffering for three weeks in this race am I going to leave the race on stage 20.’"
With the encouragement of USA Cycling’s Jim Miller, Talansky was happy to test his powers of recovery by tackling the Worlds immediately after completing the Vuelta.
"The nice thing about riding the Vuelta is that your training is done for the rest of the season. Three weeks like that and you have everything you need," he laughed. "I was going to do the road race regardless of whether I did the time trial, because Jim Miller suggested it to me as an idea. When you do your first grand tour, you need to see how quickly you can recover."
Above all, the Vuelta-Worlds combination will allow the youngster to bank valuable experience for the years to come. The one-off nature of the Worlds time trial means that Talansky takes the start without a specific targeted placing in mind, but ever the diligent student, he views the race as a further opportunity learn his craft.
"You have to learn the races before you can win the races, whether it’s a grand tour or a one-week stage race," Talansky said. "Having done the race and knowing what to expect coming into it is a huge advantage."
The learning curve continues in Copenhagen on Wednesday.