After what he calls the worst year of his professional career, Andrew Talansky (Cannondale) says that he’s ready to fight back in 2016 and prove that he’s worth more than his previous results have shown. Talansky secured a top 10 finish at the 2013 Tour de France iand took a fine victory at the 2014 Critérium du Dauphiné, but he has since endured a challenging 18 months marred by crashes.
The American admits that it has been a difficult time for him, but talking to Cyclingnews a day before his opening race of the year at the Tour de San Luis, he was in defiant mood.
“Sometimes it’s not a great experience to have but sometimes it can help you a lot,” he said. “It beats you down a little bit and you’re not at the front of races like you wanted to be and you’re not performing how you want to be."
“From there, you have a choice to make and you either sit there and feel sorry for yourself, and ask why things aren’t going your way or you move your ass and you train your ass off and you return to the level or even surpass the level that you’ve had before. I’ve definitely found that renewed fire and motivation this winter to show the results that I’ve had, second in Romandie to Bradley Wiggins, second to Richie Porte in Paris-Nice, winning Dauphiné, those results aren’t the pinnacle of what I can do, it’s just the start.”
Talansky turned professional in 2011 with Garmin-Cérvelo at the relatively late age of 23 after showing huge promise with victory in the under-23 US national time trial championships, and second behind one Nairo Quintana at the Tour de l’Avenir. Now 27, conventional wisdom has it that Talansky is entering the peak years of his career. He believes that his later start means that he’s got more time to reach that peak.
“Obviously I’m capable of what I’ve already done but beyond that we’ll just have to wait and see,” said Talansky. “I’m 27 years old and this is a sport that rewards age and experience and I think I came through a little later than some so I think that I can progress for the next three, four five years until I’m at my absolute physical peak."
“I came into this sport winning as an under 23 rider, I’ve had some level of success in every year of my professional career but I really want to get back to that upward trend that I was on a couple of years ago.”
A clean run at the Tour de France
While much of Talansky’s 2016 race programme will repeat that of 2015, he has decided to start the season earlier than ever before at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina. The seven-day race is a chance for the American to start racing with little to no pressure and compare himself against those he will be racing against when he begins the European part of the calendar. It’s also a chance to work for and help his teammates who often have to ride for him.
“We looked through the calendar and really it is just the Tour Down Under or this and I wanted to come here to see what the race was about and to start my year off by getting a week of racing under my belt but in a relaxed way,” Talansky expalined. “When we do get to Paris-Nice and Algarve, I will be expecting pretty good performances out of myself and I think that the team expects that too. Here is a little bit of a rare opportunity to help some of my teammates… A lot of my teammates spend the whole season helping me achieve goals and it’s nice to pay that back some times.”
Following the Tour de San Luis, Talansky will enjoy a small break before his first race in Europe at the Volta ao Algarve. He will then ride Paris-Nice, the Volta a Catalunya, the Tour de Romandie and the Critérium du Dauphiné as he builds towards his big goal of the Tour de France in July. Despite the course, Talansky never considered a tilt at the Giro d’Italia saying that he was never at his best racing in Italy.
This year will be Talansky’s fourth Tour de France he’s had an 10th and 11th place and one abandon in his previous three attempts. He held back on putting a specific result on his ambitions for July and explained that his real goal was to make it to the start-line with a solid spring campaign behind him.
“I don’t ever feel like I’ve got a fully clean run at the Tour. Even when I won the Dauphiné it was not very smooth,” he said. “Last year I was sick and then I went to the Tour of California and stopped on the first day. This year the process already started in November and the big goal is to really focus on all the races through the season but ideally when we sit down in August and look at how the Tour went, however it goes, they can say ‘He did everything he could from November through to July’. I don’t think I’ve been able to say that in the past."
“It’s nice to say I want to be third or whatever in July but I think actions speak louder than words and it’s about putting all those pieces together and taking it step by step on the way there.”
Racing with Pierre Rolland
Talansky will likely be sharing a leadership role with new signing Pierre Rolland at the Tour de France. Rolland joined the team this winter along with Rigoberto Uran who is set to head up the team at the Giro d’Italia. Talansky had a chance to meet Rolland at the team’s training camp in Aspen last year and he believes that their two differing riding styles can work well together at the Tour de France.
“I can be a little more calculated at times and looking at the overall picture. Pierre is very passionate and you see that in the way he races. If he’s on a great day then he’ll attack until he gets away, he’ll attack until he forces himself away. He’s not one to sit on and finish eighth on a stage and hope that that’s his GC race,” Talansky said.
“He’s someone that’s always attacking and always off the front. I think that the combination of a little bit more conservative style at times can complement each other really well.”