Garmin-Transitions boss Jonathan Vaughters has an eye for young time trial talent. He again took advantage of that ability to spot talent this week, signing newly crowned U.S. U23 TT champ Andrew Talansky to a three-year deal that will begin January 1, 2011.
Vaughters confirmed the signing Friday morning.
“Andrew is an incredible young talent,” said Vaughters. “We started the team with the goal of helping young riders grow, so Andrew is a perfect fit for us. At such a young age, he has unique combination of racing experience in Europe and the United States that will be a huge benefit for the team. Look out for this guy, he’s going to be a star.”
Talansky opened conversations with Vaughters in May after a strong showing at the SRAM Tour of the Gila, where he finished sixth overall, 2:36 behind overall winner Levi Leipheimer.
“At Gila, he was just unbelievably strong,” said Vaughters. “He was there everyday. You know, he just looks very solid on the bike. He’s a very muscular kid, but at the same time, he climbs really well.”
“After Gila I started talking to people and I think that was more just because guys like Bruyneel and Vaughters were in the car,” said Talansky. “I mean, if you just look at the results, it’s like, ‘Oh, that’s good,’ but they were there, so they got to watch it.”
Watch Vaughters did and after Gila, he began looking into the 21-year-old.
“After Gila I started doing a little research on him and found out that he really hasn’t been racing very long at all and certainly not full-time racing,” said Vaughters. “So, when he won the prologue at Joe Martin, I figured it would be a good fit and I was willing to go ahead and give this a shot, so I called him up and we started talking.”
Talks continued and Vaughters offered Talansky a contract before he joined the U.S. National Team in Europe, where he turned in a run of impressive results. Talansky came up third in stage three and the overall at the Ronde de l’Isard d’Ariège; first in stage two and second overall at the Volta Provincia Tarragona; and first in stage two at Tour des Pays de Savoie.
“I was talking to them and then I went over to Europe, got a few results there and that kind of just sealed it up, finalized everything,” said Talansky.
“He went off to Europe and proved my hunch correct,” said Vaughters. “I mean, I’d already sent him an offer at that point in time, but he went out to Europe and started killing everybody at a bunch of races over there.
“Those are races that if you can do well there, you’re capable of racing on the ProTour.”.
Talansky will not stagaire with Garmin this season; he will instead continue on with Cal Giant-Specialized through the Cascade Classic in July.
“It’s good, you know,” said Talansky. “I thought it would be cool with Cal Giant to finish out the season with them.”
After that, he will return to Europe with the national team for the Tour de l’Avenir before the world championships – his win Thursday guaranteed him a spot on the U.S. team for worlds.
“He’s going to be with the national team this fall,” said Vaughters. “He could stagaire with us, that would be fine, but there’s probably only two races that I can think of that wouldn’t conflict with the national team.”
Talansky was enthusiastic about his jump from elite amateur to ProTour, particularly with Garmin and twin cultures of youth development and anti-doping. “I’m really excited, just because it’s really a great team,” he said. “I mean, I like their stance on cycling. They’ve been clean from the start. I think it’s really great for our generation of riders to have teams like that and also their history of developing young riders.”
Vaughters was confident in Talansky’s future, though admitted that his new hire is raw enough that he can’t yet nail him down as a rider. “He’s clearly a very ambitious rider and someone who knows how to win races,” said Vaughters. “Long-term, I see him, it’s hard to say. He’ll already be good at races like Flèche Wallone, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, shorter stage races. A three-week stage race is probably at least two years off for him.”
For his part, Talansky is happy to be in the Garmin development pipeline that has proven to elevate young riders into capable pros that get the nod in big races. “Guys like Peter Stetina are getting to do the biggest races in the world, getting to do races like California, the Dauphiné, maybe a grand tour,” said Talansky. “They care about the younger riders and they have a vested interest. They really do care and want to help you reach your full potential. And then you have guys like Vande Velde and Millar and Zabriskie to learn from, who are some of the best riders in the sport, so it’s a great combination.
“I’m not sure if they know who I am yet.”