Andrew Talansky of Garmin-Cervélo finished ninth on Wednesday’s mountainous stage 4, just 1:50 behind winner Chris Horner. With his strong ride on the Sierra Road climb, Talansky took over the lead in the Young Riders competition at the Amgen Tour of California and climbed to ninth overall in the general classification. It was a big performance from the 22-year-old, who is a past U23 U.S. National Champion in the time trial and who finished second in the 2010 edition of the Tour de l’Avenir.
Bad luck dropped Talansky down the classification during Thursday’s stage between Seaside and Paso Robles. “Ryder and I dropped back for a nature break, and I don’t know, I shifted and something happened, and I crashed. I spent 20 minutes chasing back in the cars,” he said. Unaware of his teammate behind him, Ryder Hesjedal continued riding. “Race radio would have been helpful. It’s the same for everyone, but something like that could have been avoided,” noted Talansky.
Talansky’s bad luck continued when he got caught up behind a crash closer to the finish. “Some guys just crashed for no apparent reason. Lots of guys are getting tired. I could have avoided it by being closer to the front. I’m frustrated by that,” he said. “Losing 45 seconds because some guys crashed, that’s frustrating.”
In Friday’s time trial, Talansky pulled back some of the time he lost. “I’ve been feeling good in the time trials this season. I just gave it everything,” he said of the effort. Talansky also had strong time trial stages at the Tour de Romandie and Vuelta Ciclistá País Vasco. “The time trials I’ve done well in are hillier, more undulating,” he said. He overtook Peter Sagan of Liquigas-Cannondale on the Young Riders classification, but could not inch any closer to Tejay van Gardern (HTC-Highroad), who finished third on the stage.
Talansky is part of the many-headed hydra of a team at Garmin-Cervélo, so he does not have an entirely free hand at this Amgen Tour of California. The team is deep with general classification talent. “Just about everyone has the ability to be on the podium,” Talansky said. After Friday’s time trial, Garmin-Cervélo has Christian Vande Velde, Tom Danielson, and Ryder Hesjedal in the top ten.
Talansky sits eleventh overall, and 1:02 down on Tejay van Garderen in the Young Riders classification. “It’s something that’s a nice thing, a bonus, but not a priority,” he said of the White Jersey. “It just means you’re riding well, and you’re young.” Garmin-Cervélo hopes to put at least one rider on the podium. Talansky rated a stage win or a high placing in the general classification as considerably more important than the Young Rider’s prize. “When the team has the capability to win, that’s more important.”
Until Zabriskie’s stage victory on Friday, Garmin-Cervélo had not taken a stage victory in this year’s race. “We know we have a strong team, but we’ve been missing the win,” he said. “It was a great day for him and for the team. It was exciting to know that Dave had the fastest time, and set a course record.”
Looking ahead, Talansky expects the race to blow apart on the climb to Mount Baldy. Despite his high finish on Sierra Road, Talansky does not consider himself a pure climber. He credited Irish climbing talent Dan Martin with pacing him to the finish in San Jose. “Dan’s one of the best climbers in the world. When he’s feeling good, it’s something to see.” Talansky suggested that the team might chase both a stage win and the general classification on Saturday’s queen stage.
“Someone is going to win solo, and it’s going to be ones and twos coming into the finish,” he predicted. Talansky described Horner as “on another level” on Sierra Road, and if the RadioShack rider climbs as well on Saturday, he will be difficult to beat. “We’re going to do what we can to put RadioShack under pressure and give them a run for it,” Talansky said. “We have quite a few options to play.”
Though he is frustrated to have lost time to crashing, Talansky is happy with his ride at this year’s Amgen Tour of California. “That’s bike racing. You can learn from it, and try not to let it happen again,” he said of his bad luck. On the whole, Talansky is satisfied with his results this week. “I’m pretty happy with how this race has gone so far,” he concluded.