LEEDS, England (VN) — Jonathan Vaughters leaned across to Andrew Talansky and whispered, asking if it was OK to share the big news.
Despite speculation that the recently crowned Critérium du Dauphiné champion was courting other offers, Vaughters confirmed Thursday that the American is staying where he started his pro career in 2011, with Garmin-Sharp, for two more seasons.
For Talansky, it’s confirmation that he is now the undisputed grand tour leader at the American team.
“This is the first season I was coming up on a year without a contract, and it was nice to see interest from other teams, but when I sat down and looked at my future, where I wanted to go, it made things very simple,” Talansky said Thursday in a press conference.
“It was a very simple decision for me,” he continued. “This is the team that has placed belief in me. This is the team where I started, and why I am here today. I am very happy to call this my home for the next two years.”
The fact that team boss Vaughters can commit to a rising prospect like Talansky indicates that things are looking good on the sponsorship front.
Garmin is expected to exit as title sponsor at the end of the season, and while Vaughters would not publicly state that a new sponsor is confirmed, he suggested things are on the right track.
“I can’t talk specifics about that,” Vaughters said. “I can say I wouldn’t sign a contract with Andrew if I didn’t think the situation was in a good place. … More to come, you’re gonna have to wait.”
Despite the fact that all nine Tour de France starters were at the table during the press conference, all questions were directed toward Talansky.
For Vaughters, who made the controversial decision to leave popular British rider David Millar at home, the fact that Garmin-Sharp brings a young, relatively inexperienced Tour team, featuring four riders who are making their Tour debuts, says it all.
“This is what I say is the start of a long-term project. I’ve had this belief in Andrew for quite awhile, that he can become one of the top grand tour riders in the world,” Vaughters said.
“This team will be incredible this year, but it’s the first building block so that they can stay on a high level for the next two or three years,” he continued. “That’s why we have so many young riders, so we can build on that going forward, and we can challenge for grand tour podiums. So we are starting that right here and right now, on Saturday.”
Four Tour rookies are on the Tour squad, including Alex Howes, Ben King, Tom-Jelte Slagter, and Janier Acevedo. Jack Bauer and Talansky are back for only their second Tour start. Garmin has clearly turned the page, and Vaughters is committed to building the Tour squad around Talansky.
Much like BMC Racing has done with Tejay van Garderen, Garmin-Sharp is putting its faith into the determined legs of Talansky.
Last year, he clawed his way into the top-10. This year, expectations are even higher, especially following his dramatic, final-day victory at the Dauphiné last month in the French Alps.
“It would be a bit presumptuous to say you’re coming here to win, unless your name is Alberto Contador or Chris Froome,” Talansky said. “We’re coming here to do the best we can, that might be 10th, fifth, or first. We might have to wait until Paris to see.”
Talansky has been on a steady upward trajectory since linking up with Vaughters in 2010. He already posted some impressive results in his rookie season in 2011, notching victory at the Tour de l’Ain in 2012 and riding to seventh at the Vuelta a España. Last year, he won a stage at Paris-Nice and was second to Richie Porte. This year, it was the spectacular ride at the Dauphiné.
“Every season has its own challenges. It’s what this sport is all about,” he said. “JV [Vaughters] has always put faith in me. I’ve had opportunities with this team that I would have never gotten somewhere else … You always have to have the faith and knowledge that something good will come out of the work and sacrifice that we put into it. That’s the biggest lesson, that you have to keep believing in yourself, and trust in the process. That’s what we’re building on.”
The future is now for Talansky and the new-look Garmin-Sharp.