LYON, France (VN) — There are those who are happy to compete and be part of the conversation near the end of the race. And then there are those who expect to win, and are disappointed with third place in a maiden Tour de France.
Andrew Talansky is the latter.
“I always kind of thought it was going to be a sprint like it was with a smaller group, just because when you have that many guys, one person attacks, someone always chases. I chased a couple moves down just because you have to keep it together and nobody’s going to do it,” said Garmin-Sharp’s Talansky on a sweltering afternoon in Lyon.
“I mean … 50 meters of hesitation probably cost me a stage win at the Tour. So it’s not a mistake I’ll make again.”
After he crossed the line in third, having lost to Matteo Trentin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEdge), Talansky was none too pleased, and seemed let down at the team bus. He spun on the trainer for 15 minutes, then came to reporters.
“I mean. You don’t get that many — I mean, hopefully, many more are going to come — but each year you don’t get that many opportunities to win a stage at the Tour de France…. I felt like I could have started sprinting a little earlier and given myself a chance to win.”
Talansky and teammate David Millar fought to get into a break on a lumpy stage 14 from Saint-Pourcain-Sur-Siole to Lyon that took nearly 100 kilometers to establish.
Talansky did well to hold on and contest the finish, and he also moved up in the best-young-rider competition, to third, 1:10 behind Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma).
Millar described his day as “horrible, actually.”
“I kind of forced the break to happen but as soon as I got in it I realized I wasn’t on a day to win. I was at my limit the whole time,” he said. “But I had the objective to Andrew to get him back in the white-jersey game, so my kind of quest for the stage win was out the window, but I did well getting Andrew back up into his object.”
And Millar was pleased about that.
“It’s like every day with my team; the whole team is filled with Talanskys and that’s nothing new. That’s my role for the team, to look out for those guys and give them guidance, so it wasn’t out of frustration, especially when I’m on a bad day,” he said. “Everyone seems to be in good condition and good spirits so there’s no reason that we won’t, well, they won’t be attacking.”
Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) was also in the move, which totaled 18 riders. Van Garderen finished fifth at the Tour last year in his second attempt, but faltered this year in on a hot day in the Pyrenees. After Saturday’s stage, he’s half an hour back in the general classification, and 27 minutes out of the white jersey, a shirt he won last year.
“The goal was to try to win the stage, so we knew that we were not the fastest guys in the break, so we had to race aggressive and try to get away. We saw that some guys were sitting. Some teams were keeping us at one minute, then they gave up the chase,” van Garderen said.
“It was nervous there for a good 40km. Once we got clear, it was fine. Any time a break makes it to the line, you can be pretty sure it was a hard break to get into.
“I had nothing to lose, everything to gain, I am going to go for it. I didn’t work, but it felt good to give it a try.”
Van Garderen fell away in the closing kilometers, and didn’t factor at the sharp end. Talansky, however, gained much on Saturday, and will look to parlay that momentum into another result in the coming week.
First, the peloton tackles Mont Ventoux Sunday. Next come three very difficult days in the Alps. A time trial also remains, with two category-2 climbs. All these elements certainly play to Talansky’s strengths, and he’s not too far out of white to contest, though he downplayed that element Saturday.
“That was kind of a bonus,” Talansky said. “We got in the break, we were riding all day first and foremost to win a stage. Whatever the timing was, we weren’t really concerned how far back the peloton or anybody else was. But that was an added bonus.”
Now, he’s focused on recovering before the windy hors-categorie contest Sunday.
“Ventoux’s a nice climb. I’ll definitely give it all I can. Maybe we’ll try to have someone else in the break tomorrow,” he said.
The white-jersey contest is stacked with contenders, however. In the lead is Kwiatkowski, a remarkable all-arounder, and climber Nairo Quintana (Movistar) is in second place.
“I was aggressive today to get into that move, and that got me close to that. Now that that’s on the radar a little bit — we’ll have to see how tomorrow goes, and base it off that. But it’s nice to have a chance and at least be close to it again,” said Talansky, who is looking forward to the Alps.
“I really like those kind of climbs,” he said. “Longer, steadier, higher altitude. Hopefully we can do something else there.”