Andrew Talansky came through the first mountain stage of the Tour de France relatively unscathed, finishing in a group containing Michael Rogers, Jakob Fuglsang and Garmin-Sharp teammate Daniel Martin. The American rode alongside Martin on the slopes of the final climb to Ax 3 Domaines, as up ahead Team Sky annihilated the opposition. Talansky now sits 12th in the overall standings, 2:48 down on race leader Chris Froome (Team Sky).
"It was exactly what I expected to happen with Sky taking over, riding tempo and their race. You just have to hang on," Talansky said as he warmed down alongside Martin at the summit.
"It's a good boost for my confidence. It's the first mountain stage, people are still fresh and I'd imagine that I'd get less fatigued than other guys in the third week. It's just a matter of getting through one more day here in the Pyrenees and then going onto the Alps."
Talansky came into the race with somewhat broad ambitions. First and foremost the 24-year-old set his sights on reaching Paris but as the race left the cauldron of Corsica and teased towards the Pyrenees, a tilt at the white jersey became a possibility. Talansky now lies second in that competition, 46 seconds down on Movistar's Nairo Quintana, who attacked on the Port de Pailhères and finished alongside Alberto Contador.
"I'm not with the top five guys right here, right now but I am kicking around in the front group and I can hang on. Mentally knowing that is helpful," Talansky said, almost somewhat relieved.
Garmin came into the race with a number of possible top ten contenders. Ryder Hesjedal slipped from contention after he broke a rib on stage one. Talansky found himself alongside teammate Daniel Martin on the last climb and when the American began to suffer the Irishman paced him towards the finish.
"Today, it was everything I could do, the pace they set on the first climb of the day was almost faster than any climb we've done all season. I like when you get to the point where you're on the last climb, it blows up and you just have to go as hard as you can to the line. Luckily I had someone with me shepherding me along."
The team's director Charly Wegelius admitted that Sky currently had the two strongest riders in the race but praised the efforts of both Talansky and Martin, the latter who lies 13th and on the same time as the American.
"That was very good, extremely good and world class rides from two young guys. I was impressed with how they rode together as a real team," Wegelius said.
"I was surprised we lost Ryder early on but he's riding with a broken rib so we can put a brave face on it but I'd challenge anyone to ride up a mountain in the Tour de France with a broken rib and make the front group."
"The first mountain stage of the tour always provides some surprises about riders' condition. In the past it's always been about riding on flat roads for ten or twelve days but the fact that this was the first day we had and coupled with the heat, it's pretty normal to see some people suffering in the end."