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Battered Andrew Talansky still eager to take on the best guys as Tour rolls onward

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MULHOUSE, France (VN) — Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) has scrapes and scabs up and down his body from various crashes, but those battle scars do not matter. What he cares about is having a chance to race against the Tour de France’s top riders when the race climbs into the mountains.

“It’s just mentally hard because you want to be there in the final of the race with the best guys,” Talansky said. “I’m looking forward to the chance when I do get to do that.”

Talansky crashed Friday when he became tangled with Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) and again Saturday on a wet descent. He said there was “no rhyme or reason”— he simply found “a wrong patch of pavement at the wrong time.”

That crash ruled him out of Saturday’s showdown up the La Mauselaine climb, where Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and race leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) dueled for time. Talansky, who won the Critérium du Dauphiné in June, said that it was tough to not be there and have his chance.

“It was tough mentally knowing how I was yesterday,” Talansky said. “Seeing the times the guys finished behind Contador and Nibali. … Really, besides Contador and Nibali, there wasn’t anyone who went up the road any faster than I did.

“That time I lost was just spent on the side of the road dealing with the bike situations and trying to collect myself again. That’s motivating.”

Talansky lost 2:20 to Contador on Saturday and slipped from eighth to 16th overall. He now sits 19th after a group of escapees — who should drop out later — infiltrated the top of the overall standings Sunday.

“I’m surprisingly all right. I’ve had my bad luck with crashing, but I’ve also come away relatively unscathed from it,” Talansky said.

“I’m still happy to be here and in the race. You can have some dumb accidents. Chris Froome is home right now; he’s somebody who was very likely to win the race again. In a one-week race, if something like this happens, it can be the end of your race, but this race is three weeks. At the end, two minutes can be nothing.”

Nicknamed “The Pit Bull,” Talansky wrestled the Dauphiné lead away from Contador and Froome with a daring move in the final day. Leading to that day, those following considered him good enough for a third overall, not for a win. With two weeks to go — including a summit finish Monday up La Planche des Belles Filles and the promise of better weather — Talansky may have similar opportunities.

“This is the Tour, not the Dauphiné. Maybe it offers a little opportunity for that, but as it was Contador’s and Froome’s race in the Dauphiné, this is Contador’s and Nibali’s race here in the Tour de France. It’s up to them to make the race happen and see what they have,” said Talansky.

“The Tour is a race of attrition. When those guys go, there’s not many left to follow. If you hang on to them for a few days in a row, all of a sudden, your time’s right back.”