Cannondale Pro Cycling announced today that Andrew Talansky will not compete in this year’s Tour de France, choosing instead to take the reins of the green argyle team at the Vuelta a Espana in September.
"It was not always the plan to skip the Tour," Talansky said in today's announcement. "However, a bit of background is necessary to explain how we arrived to that decision. I had a very personal issue — you could call it a family crisis — in February, shortly after arriving to Europe. It was a very traumatic and difficult few weeks, and it basically meant that for three weeks the bike was the last thing I was thinking about. Family always comes first."
Talansky, who re-signed with Cannondale for 2017, started his season at the Tour de San Luis in January. He then competed in France at Tour La Provence and Paris-Nice, where he crashed at the end of stage 6 and was forced to abandon. He fell ill soon afterward and underwent treatment for during the month of April for a chronic sinus inflammation that had been affecting his performance.
"I have had quite a few episodes of getting sick over the past couple years, so the medical staff decided to help me dive into looking for a possible reason," he said. "We ended up doing sinus scans that showed significant blockage and chronic inflammation, which indicated that I was very susceptible to repeated upper respiratory tract infections that could then progress into a more severe illness. That is exactly what I had been experiencing."
The team said that Slipstream CEO Jonathan Vaughters began looking at the Vuelta as an alternative to the Tour while Talansky was undergoing the antibiotic treatments.
Talansky continued to train and race while he was being treated, competing at the Tour de Romandie, where he finished 105th overall. He said he finished the anitbiotics the day after Romandie ended, and he could feel his strength returning. He rode the Tour of California in support of teammate Lawson Craddock’s GC efforts, placing second to Rohan Dennis (BMC) in the Folsom time trial and eventually finishing fourth overall.
"For the first time in a long time, I felt like myself during that race," he said. "I had a great time supporting Lawson, put in a strong TT and came out of it better than I started. From there the momentum continued to build in training toward Tour de Suisse, and I was able to put in a good nine days there."
Talansky finished fifth overall in the Suisse tour, climbing with the top riders in the mountain stages and finishing fifth in the stage 8 time trial. Despite his recovery in Switzerland, the team decided to stick with the plan of saving him for the Vuelta.
"While I was able to race well in Suisse, I was still not at my best," he said. "I was lacking the foundation that a solid spring of racing and training provide."
Talansky is now 100 per cent focused on performing well at the Vuelta in September.
"I am committed to that goal and I really want to put up a good fight in the Vuelta as a thank you for all of the support the team has given me through some very trying times," he said. "I enjoy the heat, I enjoy the fans, and the atmosphere as a whole is always great. While I will obviously miss being a part of the Tour de France team, I have no doubt that all the guys will have a great race. I’ll be cheering for them every day."
In Wednesday’s announcement, Talansky also thanked the team and Vaughters for standing by him.
"If there was one word to describe how I feel, it would have to be thankful," Talansky esaid. "As I said before, I think a lot of people began to doubt what I can do in this sport. It surprised me a little bit. It's during the tougher times that you really figure out who the people are that believe in you. It’s easy to back someone when they are winning, when they are good. It’s much tougher and takes commitment to support someone when they are down and seemingly out."
With the renewed contract, Vaughters showed he still believes in the potential Talansky showed previously when he finished seventh in the 2012 Vuelta, 10th in the 2013 Tour de France and 11th in the 2015 Tour. Talansky also won the 2014 Critérium du Dauphiné.
"I believe in his potential, long term," Vaughters said. "He's hit a bump in his career. Swiss shows he's back on track, but we re-signed him before that result anyways. I believe in the kid. It’s that simple."