Talansky excited about 'home' race at Tour of California

As the WorldTour team with the most US riders on its Tour of California roster this week, Cannondale-Garmin can claim the race as its home event. But for Andrew Talansky, who lives in Napa, the race takes on even extra meaning.

“I got driven over here by my wife this morning,” he said Friday at the pre-race press conference in Sacramento. “This is it. There are other races in the US like nationals or Colorado, but this is really for me a home race.

“When I started training out here in 2007 and 2008, the Tour of California was already going,” he said. “I think it was still in February then. I’d watch it on TV and see all the riders that I looked up to, and that’s what I was aspiring to be.”

Talansky has only had two attempts at his “home” race, in 2011 and 2012, and his results didn’t live up to expectations either year. He finished ninth during a stage in 2011 and finished 17th overall. The next year allergies affected his performance and he finished 41st. His best result in California came that year when he finished fifth in the individual time trial in Bakersfield.

Talansky comes into this year’s race after what has been his slowest start in years. He came to the 2011 race after finishing ninth in the Tour de Romandie. In 2012, he was second in Romandie and won the jersey for best young rider.

In 2013 and 2014, when he didn’t participate in California, Talansky finished 10th in the Tour de France and won Criterium du Dauphine, along with stacking up a host of podium finishes in WorldTour races. He had to abandon the Tour last year after suffering through multiple crashes.

So far this season, Talansky has finished 50th in Paris-Nice, 31st in Volta a Catalunya and 49th at Pais Vasco. His best result so far in 2015 came at Paris-Nice, where he finished seventh in the individual time trial.

Talansky is now hoping that competing in his home race will help reignite his season as the Tour de France approaches in July, and his team is ready to back him.

“We take a lot of pride coming here and performing to the best of our abilities,” he said. “We have a few of the young European guys, but we have myself, Alex Howes, Ted King, Joe Dombrowski and Ben King, all of whom are Americans and we’re very excited to be racing here.”

Dombrowski finished fourth on Mt. Baldy in 2012 and rode like a champ for eventual overall winner Bradley Wiggins when he returned to the race last year. The duo should provide a potent two-pronged attack for Cannondale.

“Joe Dombrowski had his breakout ride here in 2012, and I know he’s looking to build on that this year,” Talansky said. “So we’re looking forward to the week.”

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Growing up in Missoula, Montana, Pat competed in his first bike race in 1985 at Flathead Lake. He studied English and journalism at the University of Oregon and has covered North American cycling extensively since 2009, as well as racing and teams in Europe and South America. Pat currently lives in the US outside of Portland, Oregon, with his imaginary dog Rusty.