Despite a rocky start to the Critérium du Dauphiné due to illness Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) is slowly finding his feet in the race as he builds up for a likely ride in this year's Tour de France.
Coming into the race Talansky had been billed as a possible contender for the GC after a strong showing in Paris-Nice earlier this year where he won a stage and placed second overall behind Richie Porte. However, a bout of stomach flu saw him fall down the overall standings in the opening two days, leaving him to reassess his objectives for the race.
"My condition is getting better. I can eat properly now. Coming into this, once I had the stomach flu a few days before the race, I knew it was going to be difficult to be at the level that I wanted," Talansky told Cyclingnews after Wednesday's individual time trial.
"The plan was always to use this race as part of the preparation for the Tour. I planned on being in top 10 or top 15, not getting dropped on the first stage. Once I knew that was the case, the whole point of this week was to get better and go hard."
Having suffered with illness during the open few stages Talansky could have been forgiven for pulling out of the race and perhaps resurfacing at the Tour de Suisse which starts later this week. However, as he explained, the Dauphiné offered up a more appealing course and a number of other merits not possible in Switzerland.
"The course here is good for what I need to get with the long climbs. Hilly time trials are actually easier for me so it was important for me to get in a flat 30 kilometre time trial like the first one in the Tour. You can say maybe giving it four more days it would have been better but that wouldn't have mattered and I would have had less time to recover after Suisse ahead of the Tour de France."
Although Garmin has not announced a public long list for the Tour de France, Cyclingnews understands that one was drawn up internally 12 weeks ago. Talansky, after cracking the top 10 in last year's Vuelta plus his performance at Paris-Nice this spring, has built up for the Grand Depart in Corsica.
"As far as I know, yes, I'm going. That's been the plan from the beginning of the year and this was a little bit of setback but the Tour is still three weeks away. I've had situations in the past where I've been suffering and then a few weeks later I've been going just fine. That will be the case here.
"After Paris-Nice I was obviously excited about the Tour. I've always been pretty realistic about the Tour and my own goals and taken it step-by-step. When I look at it objectively my own personal goal was to line up at the Tour and the second was to get to the Tour in the best shape possible. If I accomplish that, showing up the best I can be, then everything is a bonus. It's my first Tour de France, I'm 24 years old, we have Ryder [Hesjedal] and I know he wants to do well. I'm happy to be there and help to support him in the mountains and see what comes out of it.
"If something ends up great for me overall that's fantastic or if all I manage is to get through and help the team and do something on a stage but arrive in Paris, that will still be a success."
Talansky's position is somewhat similar to that of Daniel Martin. The Irishman and Garmin teammate rode to an impressive stage win at the 2011 Vuelta before making his Tour debut last summer.
"It's very similar to that. Especially with the Tour, which is above any other race, so it's a little naïve to come in, no matter how good you are, and say I'm going to set the world on fire. It's just not realistic. I got top 10 on the Vuelta so physically I can hold up over three weeks but the Tour is completely different in the way that it's raced and the first week. For me, I need to go and get the experience of racing it and we'll see what comes out of it. In the future I'll come back and then start setting firmer goals."
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Daniel Benson is the Editor in Chief at both Cyclingnews.com and BikePerfect.com. Based in the UK, he has worked within cycling for almost 15 years, and he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he has reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he runs the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.
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