A CORUÑA, Spain (VN) — The sun is out in northwest Spain, and American Andrew Talansky is smiling. The Cannondale – Drapac captain is starting his first grand tour of the 2016 season and says, with confidence, “Of course, I’m here for the classification”

Talansky has had a rough couple of years, due to crashes and family setbacks. He said this summer that he hasn’t been at his best since the 2014 Tour de France. Due to those circumstances and the desire to impress, he skipped the Tour and took aim at the third grand tour of the year.

The race began in the far northwest city of Ourense. And now, it continues to weave through Galicia for its first mountain stages. He lost 49 seconds on the Mirador de Ézaro summit finish Monday, but the steep 30 percent ramps suited other climbers better. His eyes are looking further across the horizon.

“It is about consistency and riding my race because I know how I prepared for this, I know how I’m riding,” Talansky said while prepping his bike for Tuesday’s stage 4.

“I believe what I am capable of and the team does as well, and it’s about putting together that for three weeks, not about just one day or about one single thing. I know that I’m at my best in the third week in grand tours, and the third week in this grand tour is hard. So it’s about being consistent and getting there in a good position and taking advantage of that.”

Other green-kitted Cannondale cyclists like Joe Dombrowski and Davide Formolo walked by and mounted their bikes. They will be supporting Talansky, who rode only the Vuelta in the 2011 and 2012 seasons and in 2012, then just 23, placed seventh overall behind Alberto Contador (Tinkoff).

General manager Jonathan Vaughters took him to the Tour de France in the following years to learn. The 2013 season went well with 10th place and the 2014 season even better, until he crashed a few times. An intelligent move in the final day of the Critérium du Dauphiné saw Alberto Contador and Chris Froome dislodged and netted him the overall, and placed him as a favorite for the Tour. He was flying, but crashes stopped his progress.

Last year, he returned for 11th place. This year, he wanted better — his best — and skipped the Tour to correct his course in the Vuelta.

“The way that worked out this year gets a lot of focus, skipping the Tour, but in 2011 and 2012, it was the only grand tour I did. Not much has really changed now, you just go out there and do your own thing over three weeks and see what you can do,” said Talansky, perhaps playing down the choice that he and Vaughters made this spring.

“The classification, it’s my aim, 100 percent. I want to improve on how I was in 2012 here, which was seventh. I think I can improve on that.

“I think that if anybody has been paying attention I have already shown that — OK, I’ve made a smart move and I want a Dauphiné — I’m climbing with the best people in the Tour de Suisse and I’m climbing with the best people again in the Tour of Utah. I won the queen stage there.

“I’m climbing well and I’m climbing how I was before, if not better in some cases. I think people forget that a lot of times, I will also take advantage of my time trial to get a good result.”

If it is climbing that Talansky likes then this Vuelta, apart from Monday’s ramp, suits him with its 10 summit finishes.