Talansky using Tour of Utah as final tune up for Vuelta a Espana

Andrew Talansky has one clear memory from the only other time he raced the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah – in 2009 before it was a UCI race.

Talansky told Cyclingnews on Saturday that he entered the 2009 event on a composite team and endured a long week of suffering. He expects suffering of a different kind this year, as he helps Cannondale-Drapac teammate Joe Dombrowski defend his 2015 title and to keep alive the team's streak of three consecutive overall wins dating back to 2012.

"There was a lot of suffering that year and it didn't really go great for me," Talansky said following Saturday's team presentation in Cedar City. "There's probably going to be a lot of suffering this year, but I'm hoping it yields a better result."

"Joe smashed everybody in this race last year, and after all the help he gave me at Swiss and at the Vuelta with me, I'm looking forward to the chance to repay that a bit," Talansky explained.

"He's in great shape and it's an important race for him, myself and the whole team. And when you have the defending champ it's obvious you are going to support him."

Forgoing the Tour, targeting the Vuelta

After a difficult spring that saw Talansky crash out of Paris-Nice and deal with a personal issue at home, the 27-year-old California transplant decided to forgo this year's Tour de France in favour of taking on the Vuelta a Espana, where his best finish is seventh in 2012.

This week's race in Utah will provide a final chance to fine tune and understand his form before the Spanish Grand Tour starts on August 20.

"It fits in nicely and it's fun to race in the US," Talansky said. "I really enjoyed California this year, so I'm looking forward to racing here again."

Talansky's outing this year in California went much better than his 2015 race when breathing problems forced him to abandon on stage 1. This year he finished fourth overall after taking second to Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing) in the individual time trial.

Although the Tour of Utah lacks a time trial again this year, Talansky knows from experience that the race is tough enough to separate the wheat from the chaff.

"It's always disappointing for me because I enjoy time trials," he said. "I think for a stage race a time trial balances things out a little bit. But it's a great race. There are two super hard climbing stages back to back on Saturday and Sunday. We go over Mt. Nebo this year, too, so there's plenty in there to separate the race."

Like most of the riders, Talansky believes the overall in Utah will likely be decided during the final two days.

"You never know, though, with the altitude and with Mt. Nebo in there," he said. "There are definitely opportunities and there's maybe a little bit more to the race. But Saturday and Sunday will absolutely be decisive."

Asked if he plans on being there in the final two days to help his younger teammate bring home another title, Talansky left no room for doubt.

"100 percent," he said succinctly.

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