UTRECHT, Netherlands (VN) — Andrew Talansky (Cannondale-Garmin) was on the form of his life last summer, fresh off a victory over Alberto Contador at the Criterium du Dauphiné, when fate intervened. A crash in the Tour de France’s stage 7 sent him off the back, chasing, his back contorted, alone in televised tears. He would finish barely inside the time cut on stage 11 but would abandon the next day.
It was an imperfect end to what had the makings of a perfect summer campaign.
So perhaps it’s not so surprising that the young American is using his imperfect early season, which saw him out of the Amgen Tour of California with respiratory illness and slightly off the pace at the Dauphiné, as a source of inspiration and confidence, rather than anger.
If nothing else, the attitude shows maturity from the 26-year-old.
“You know, the thing I learned last year is that the Tour is gonna go how the Tour is gonna go,” he told VeloNews. “You do all the work, you do everything you can, and then the truth is, for you to get the result you are capable of, you’re going need a little bit of luck. It’s not [that] you need everything to go perfectly, you just need to avoid anything going catastrophically wrong, like it did last year.”
The lessons of last year’s crash, and eventual exit from the Tour, provide “peace of mind,” Talansky said. Things could hardly go worse, after all.
“I’m going do the race I’m capable of and take it day by day and look forward to getting in those mountains and showing what I can do,” he said.
Talansky’s early-season troubles, including the illness that sent him out of California in May, put him on the back foot coming into June. It was a slower rise in form than previous seasons.
“It’s felt like more of a progression this year, which means maybe I didn’t get a better result at Dauphiné or a better result in the spring, but it feels like I’m coming into my best form this year, right at the right time,” he said.
In June, Talansky earned his first and only victory of the season, taking the national time trial championship in Chatanooga, Tennessee. Two weeks later, he finished well off the podium at the Dauphiné in June, 4:17 back in 10th, clearly missing a little something on the long climbs he used to launch himself to victory last year.
“The results that you get in March or April have no bearing on how you’re going to be in July. Sometimes results in June don’t even have a bearing on how you’re going to be in July,” he said.
The three weeks between that final tune-up event and the start of the Tour have been spent sharpening.
“I definitely did a little bit more work and fine-tuning between Dauphiné and now, and I’m ready to go,” he said.
“I knew a top-10 finish [at the Dauphiné] would build momentum in the right way toward the Tour. I ended up 10th,” he said. “The way I felt in some of those days was definitely promising.
This season couldn’t match the last, at least not yet. But it’s momentum, not results, that keeps Talansky’s head up.
“I could tell I was nowhere near 100 percent, but I was still hopeful, I was still close, I was starting to feel how I like to feel when the road goes uphill. Sometimes that’s the most important thing.”