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Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) on the podium in Paris-Nice
Young American one of Garmin-Sharp's wild dogs
When Jonathan Vaughters presented the Garmin-Sharp riders at the team's Tour de France press conference in Porto Vecchio, he divulged a 'factoid' about Andrew Talansky, revealing that his talented young American rider is the only one who was able to match the climbing rate of Chris Froome one day at the Critérium du Dauphiné.
Talansky is also a major contender for the best young rider's white jersey and part of the Garmin-Sharp pack of 'wild dogs' who intend to attack this year's Tour de France en masse, making it unpredictable and uncomfortable for the big overall favourites such as Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff).
He is riding the Tour de France for the first time in his career. Yet he has already gained vital experience this year with a spell in yellow at Paris-Nice and some strong rides at Critérium di Dauphiné and is wiser beyond his years, speaking with authority and confidence despite only turning 24 last November.
"It'd be wonderful to end up in the white jersey but it's just one component of what we will consider a successful Tour de France," Talansky told Cyclingnews.
"It's my first Tour de France and you need to go to a race and learn a race before you can go back and win it or go on the podium. I've seen that with Paris-Nice and other races. I'm looking forward to learning more about the Tour and the way it's raced but I know I enjoy racing on French roads. It should be familiar."
Nerves does not seem to be a problem, despite the grandeur and pressure of the Tour de France.
"The Tour de France is only as big as you make it. Everyone can make it as big or as small as you want in your head. It depends on how much it affects you but I generally don’t let it affect me much," he said wisely.
Ripping up the Tour de France script
Talansky is perhaps confident because he knows the other riders at Garmin-Sharp will watch his back, protect and help him in the race, and share their experience to ensure he does as well as he can on the road to Paris.
"When you're surrounded by such an experienced group of riders, it helps take the pressure off you," he said.
"David (Millar) has won multiple stages, Tom (Danielson) has been in the top ten, Christian (Vande Velde) has been top five, Ryder (Hesjedal) has won the Giro. Riding with these guys takes the stress off."
Garmin-Sharp has opted for a strong team of climbers and overall contenders for the 2013 Tour de France, leaving out sprinter Tyler Farrar and former Paris-Roubaix winner Johan Van Summeren.
With the likes of Talansky, Vande Velde, Hesjedal and Dan Martin in their starting nine, Garmin-Sharp intend to rip up any script that the Tour de France traditionally follows.
"As Jonathan said when in our press conference, we don’t have the rider who can say he will win the overall race, so we have to adopt a different tactic to win stages and hopefully attack our way into the front of the race. That's the plan and we have the team here to do that everywhere," Talansky explained.
"We'll be going for it but not in a haphazard way and throwing people off the front. We'll do it in a very intelligent, very calculated manor."