Cannondale-Garmin came into the Tour de France hoping that sharing the pressure of success over multiple riders would safeguard them from the pitfalls that the race more often than not throws up. Andrew Talansky, Dan Martin and Ryder Hesjedal have all been charged with shouldering the team's GC ambitions, but a challenging first week has seen favourites emerge among the trio.
Hesjedal's hopes have all but gone after he shed more than 20 minutes when he missed the split on stage 5. Martin is just under eight minutes down on the race lead but it is Talansky in 20th at less than three minutes back that has been the team's best performer so far. Considering the action that we've seen in the opening six days though, the team are not ready to put all their eggs into one basket just yet.
"Honestly, that doesn't change the way that the team moves on these stages. It doesn't really have an effect because the team has to operate in the same way," Cannondale-Garmin directeur sportif Charly Wegelius told Cyclingnews. "We knew that time loss in these first eight or nine days from someone was a very real possibility. As far as those three riders are concerned, they will keep on keeping on and we'll see here we stand after nine days and make an assessment after that."
For Talansky, this year is in stark contrast to last year, when by this point he had already crashed hard during the cobbled stage. He would hit the deck two more times before the rest day and would leave the race soon after. Talansky has thus far avoided that but the challenging parcours in the opening week have seen plenty of crashes once again, and both Tony Martin and Fabian Cancellara have crashed out in yellow.
"It seems to be becoming the theme of the Tour de France these days, early selection through misfortune and accidents," Wegelius said. "I think its a little bit on the borderline as to whether it goes too far. It's not an easy balance to strike and a lot of it is down to luck also. Some time loss of big favourites who wouldn't ordinarily lose time can make the race very interesting, I just hope it doesn't go too far."
The rest day is almost in sight, with Friday's pure sprint stage and Saturday's ride to the Mûr de Bretagne and then the team time trial, a former stronghold of the team's. They have suffered a lot of misfortune in the discipline recently, with heavy crashes at last year's Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España. They did poorly at the Giro's opening tester this year, finishing fourth from last. The team have some good time trialling talent in their Tour squad though, not least US national champion Talansky, and they remain hopeful.
"We still put the same effort into it as ever but I think that the level of organisation and the level of a lot of the other teams has raised over the years. It's an important event for everybody on the Tour de France," Wegelius said. "Obviously the loss of Jack Bauer makes it very complicated because he was a very important rider for that and with the stage being after nine days it's not so straightforward.
"I don't want to give away too much from what we've seen of it ourselves, but let's just say, as far as keeping a team together on those roads, it's far from straightforward. People will pay heavily for their mistakes."