SALAMANCA, Spain (VN) – American grand-tour rookies Taylor Phinney and Andrew Talansky impressed during Monday’s 47km individual time trial at the Vuelta a España.
Neither had ridden a time trial so long in their respective careers, but the pair showed the big boys they will be forces to reckon with in the future.
Phinney (BMC) stopped the clock for fifth at 1:33 slower while Talansky (Garmin-Cervélo) was 16th at 2:28 slower on the rolling, windy stage over rough roads.
Tony Martin (HTC-Highroad) won in 55:54 while Chris Froome (Sky) stopped the clock 59 seconds slower for second in the stage to move into the leader’s jersey in a day full of surprises.
Phinney had one word to describe the effort: pain.
“It was an hour of pain. So you really had to be able to pace yourself,” Phinney said after the stage. “The last 15 km were really painful. They were fast because they were relatively downhill. But I was on the verge of throwing up, which is always a good sign in a time trial. It means I’m pushing myself to the limit.”
Phinney was third-to-last on GC, but was the first to cross the finish line in Salamanca’s Plaza Mayor after passing the two riders who started in front of him.
The out-and-back course faced head/crosswinds on the way, with tail/crosswinds on the way home, allowing Phinney to use his weight and power to his advantage. Bumpy roads and a rolling course made the long effort even harder.
Phinney’s early time was just shy of Olympic time trial champion Fabian Cancellara’s, something that quickly put him in a good mood after the painful effort.
“I wanted to come in and hopefully get a top-10 time,” said Phinney, 21. “Cancellara is the best time trialist in the world, so to only lose six seconds to him feels good to me.”
Talansky was equally impressive on the long, demanding course. The Garmin-Cervélo rider posted a good early split, but suffered on the final third of the course as he entered new territory, both in terms of distance and suffering.
“I had a good split at 30km, but that last 15-17km was hard. It was downhill and it favors a big power guy. I really couldn’t have gone any harder,” Talansky said. “I have never done a TT that long before. It’s a different kind of going deep. I am pretty out of it right now. I think I will get better with age. I am pretty happy with it.”
Talansky, 22, has been impressive this season in time trials across Europe, with seventh at Paris-Nice, fifth at both Critérium International and the Tour of the Basque Country and sixth at Romandie, with ninth overall and the best young rider’s jersey.
All of those TT efforts came on much shorter courses, almost half of the distance that he tackled Monday on the western plains of western Spain.
“I have never been quite like this after a TT before. The short ones are hard. The ones like this are just mind-numbing. You go to a different place when you suffer like that,” he said. “It’s something that you have to learn to do. I’ve done one. The whole point of this race is to gain experience. After doing a longer TT, hopefully I can come back in a few years and hopefully win them.”
Matthew Busche (RadioShack), the other American grand-tour rookie in the Vuelta, admitted he suffered in an important milestone in his first grand tour, crossing the line 147th at 7:54 off the winning pace.
“It was really windy. There was crosswind all the time. A couple of times I felt like I was going to get blown off my bike,” he said. “It was pretty miserable. I had a bloody nose along the way. Dry air, blew my nose, there it goes. It’s hard to believe the Vuelta’s half way done, so I am hanging in there.”