The USA’s promising new young stage racer Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) continues to impress in the second Grand Tour of his career, lying comfortably in the top ten overall of the Vuelta a España after nearly two weeks of racing. And this despite the roughest of beginnings when Garmin finished 21st in the opening team time trial after four of their riders went down on a single corner.
Talansky rode and completed his first major tour in the Vuelta last year, taking 79th place in Madrid. Talking to Cyclingnews at the start of stage 13, Talansky said that the race could not be more different for him this time round.
“The whole season’s been different, I’m becoming more and more consistent, getting more success” - like a win in the Tour de L’Ain - “and more racing at this level.”
“Last year, I came to the Vuelta just to get a Grand Tour in my legs and finish. Here, I’m coming to get the mental and physical experience of trying to stay switched on for three weeks. There’s a purpose in everything.
“Last year the Vuelta was far harder as a race, it was much more difficult than the Giro and we did perhaps seven or eight thousand more metres worth of climbing than this year.
“But when you look at the race, it’s so weighted [in terms of climbs] to the next three days. Dan Martin said that was one reason why he didn’t come.
“For guys who are riding through the race, it’s actually very doable, not so hard to finish [which is perhaps why the abandon rate is far lower this year compared to 2011 – ed.] But for a guy who’s riding GC, there have been so many days when you’ve had to be switched on. There have been five summit finishes, a team time trial, a time trial, the day that finished on the circuit [Alcañiz] and that’s pretty demanding and different from other races.”
As for the team time trial pile-up on a sweeping right-hand bend, Talansky was one of the Garmin-Sharp riders who stayed upright. It was a tough start, he says, but it is also good sign for his future that he has dealt with it and moved on.
“Me and Johan [Van Summeren] were on the front and came through [the corner] fine, but then the crash happened. Realistically, even if we had been doing an average race, we still gave away a minute 20 because we had to wait. We were going at 10 k an hour, we had to wait for three more guys to come.”
“That sucks, but it’s like the Tour de Romandie 2011, what would have happened if I hadn’t crashed in the prologue? The thing is, it did happen, and you have to live with it and move forward.”
Regarding his current condition, he says “everything has gone better than according to plan. The idea was to get to the time trial in good shape and I’m right up there, so that was a nice day, but now there’s three hard days to come. Rodriguez, Froome and those guys, they’re on another level to us - but we get to that third stage [to Cuitu Negru] some people are going to be on their hands and knees.”
“I’ve had a few respiratory issues, but they haven’t hindered me too much. It might have to do with the change from 40 degrees to 20 degrees since we came back to the race [after the rest day and transfer to Galicia.]”
“But whether I’m fifth or 25th, the idea is keep on fighting and stay up there right the way through to Madrid.”