Erroneous reporting of the results from Friday’s stage 5 of the USA Pro Challenge reportedly led to a heated confrontation between runner-up Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) and BMC team staff.
Talansky’s time of 25:05 in the 16.1km Vail time trial stood as the day’s fastest for much of the afternoon — until BMC’s Tejay van Garderen beat it by four seconds in the final ride of the day.
Due to an apparent misunderstanding in the broadcast booth, however, Talansky was identified as the day’s winner for a short time, even after van Garderen had clocked in at 25:01.
Though the mistake was quickly corrected on air, it triggered what one witness described as a profanity-laced tirade directed at BMC staff, including Kate Ochowicz-Hogan, daughter of team manager Jim Ochowicz.
“I was sitting there watching with some friends and following the results on my phone,” said Ochowicz-Hogan, BMC’s marketing director. “Talansky came [off the bus] sort of raving and waving his arms around, cursing and accusing our team of some wrongdoings [related to race timing].
“I wouldn’t want to repeat what he said, but it wasn’t friendly, sportsmanlike behavior.”
At the start of stage 6 in Loveland, Talansky admitted to having been deeply disappointed by the on-air error.
“Look, I was frustrated that the timing had been reported wrong. Losing a bike race doesn’t bother me. Tejay was a better rider than me yesterday. And I like racing with Tejay,” Talansky said.
“I was under the impression that I’d won, and then the timing changed. First I win, and then I lose. That’s what was frustrating to me. Losing doesn’t bother me. Obviously I’d love to win. But that’s why I was frustrated.”
Garmin-Sharp director Charlie Wegelius chalked the outburst up to the heat of competition.
“Everybody knows that Andrew’s got sort of a strong character,” said Wegelius of the rider nicknamed “Pitbull.”
“I think that’s something that in a lot of racing situations helps him — and as everybody knows, athletes run on a very fine emotional line in terms of what they put into an event.
“The issue that upset him had nothing to do with BMC or anything personal. He felt that he’s won and then suddenly it was taken away from him and I think that with all of the emotion he put into the race it was a little much for him.
“Obviously that’s not something we want to see, but you also have to understand that these athletes are all particular people. They’re a little bit special and sometimes the emotions kind of go over the top a bit.”
Race leader van Garderen says his timing was never in dispute at the finish.
“I have my SRM and it said that I won the race,” van Garderen told VeloNews. “The [clock at the finish] said that I won the race. For some reason the TV got a little confused, but there’s no question in my mind that I won that race.”
As for the blow-up at the team bus, van Garderen expressed both his understanding and disappointment.
“I didn’t see it firsthand, but I can understand his frustration with losing the race and I understand that there was a little confusion with the TV times, so that’s obviously going to be frustrating for him,” he said.
“At the same time the sport should have more class than that. If it’s true what he was saying with all the profanity, you know, that would be very disappointing. I’d expect better from him and from his team.”
Ochowicz-Hogan echoed van Garderen’s sentiments.
“I come from a family of elite athletes, so I understand that in the heat of the moment after a loss you can get frustrated and maybe take it out on the wrong people,” she said. “It makes me glad to think that none of our riders would treat anyone that way.”
Garmin team manager Jonathan Vaughters insisted that Talansky’s anger was not directed at any rider, team, or individual, specifically.
“We just happened to be parked next to BMC. I can guarantee you it was directed at no one specific,” Vaughters said. “The first thing he saw in parking lot was the object of his rage. It could have been anyone or anything.”
Vaughters added that Talansky’s passion is an integral part of his class as a rider.
“Andrew exhibits — more than any other rider I’ve seen in my lifetime — the true fire of a champion,” Vaughters said. “Perhaps he needs a little maturity, and a few lessons like this one, to temper that.”