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Andrew Talansky plays helper role in deep Garmin lineup for Vuelta

JEREZ DE LA FRONTERA, Spain (VN) — Andrew Talansky starts the Vuelta a España on Saturday with one eye on helping his Garmin-Sharp teammates and another on the 2015 Tour de France.

Talansky returns to competition in Saturday’s team time trial with realistic expectations in his first race back since his bitter exit from the Tour in July.

Healthy again and fully recovered from his Tour crashes, Talansky realizes that the best road back to the Tour goes straight through the Vuelta.

“The easiest thing would have been to race at Colorado, but in order to set yourself up for the next season, you need a grand tour in your legs, and I only did half the Tour, so that was going to be a detriment to 2015,” Talansky told VeloNews. “This will help me moving toward returning to the Tour next year. This is the first stepping-stone toward that.”

Talansky’s season was short-circuited when he crashed hard twice during the Tour’s first week. A brave battle on the stage to Oyonnax kept him in the race, but he was forced to exit without having the chance to test his legs that delivered a dramatic victory at the Critérium du Dauphiné.

Six weeks later, he returns to the Vuelta with realistic expectations, openly admitting he doesn’t have the form he did in June and July.

“If I can come away with a stage win, that would be exciting,” he said of his Vuelta plan. “You have to be realistic. It took me months and months to get to the level that I was at [in] the Dauphiné and Tour. And I haven’t had that time to prepare for this Vuelta.”

Talansky joins Ryder Hesjedal and Daniel Martin in a deep Garmin-Sharp squad. Both Hesjedal and Martin skipped the Tour de France, so they come motivated to do well. Talansky said he’s ready to slot into a helper’s role behind his teammates.

“We have a great team here. For Dan and Ryder, from the Giro onwards, their sights have transitioned to the Vuelta. I am happy to be here to support those guys,” Talansky said. “We have two great leaders for the Vuelta, and I am excited to help them.”

Talansky tipped his hat to Hesjedal, who gave him decisive support during the final-stage raid to secure the Dauphiné victory.

Garmin will bring a loaded team, with real options for the final podium. Hesjedal missed the Tour for the first time since 2007 — he went home after the Giro and regrouped in Maui, returning to competition with the Tour of Poland.

“Everyone has the legs, it’s a matter of how it unfolds. Are we capable of multiple guys up there in the race? I think so,” Hesjedal said. “I think we’ll be better off for it. All three of us are capable of being up there.”

Martin also returns to the Vuelta after crashing out in the opening team time trial at the Giro.

Hesjedal thinks Garmin can stack up against the high-quality Vuelta field.

“It’s a super-deep field here, but that’s what you want. You want the best riders at any race,” Hesjedal said. “Every grand tour is hard. The Vuelta should be a great race.”

With Hesjedal and Martin backed by riders such as Talansky, they could go far indeed.

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