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Tour de France

After seven stages, hot and cold for Andrew Talansky at Tour de France

Talansky tangled with Simon Gerrans at the finish of stage 7. Who's to blame remains up for debate

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NANCY, France (VN) — If only the pit bull had something to bite.

He was moving fast, his kit in tatters, his left side pan-seared from a sprint-grade crash. Andrew Talansky came across the finish in Nancy, repeatedly saying “you can’t do that,” upset about a crash in the final moments of stage 7.

What Talansky thought “you” couldn’t do was what the Garmin rider thought Simon Gerrans did: deviate from his line in a sprint, clipping Talansky’s front wheel while Gerrans moved across to drive for the line.

In the collection of footage that make up a bike race, crashes at the sharp end of the race make up fractions of frames but quickly become the most dissected, slowed-down moment of any race.

In this case, it appears Gerrans did move into Talansky’s way, though Talansky was looking over his shoulder, seemingly looking to move from the crux of the sprint — a sure recipe for someone to hit the deck.

Talansky slowed as he rolled by the Orica bus en route to Garmin’s, after an apology. He was told he was in the wrong at the time.

In one fleeting moment, Talansky smashed into the pavement, and Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) finished fifth. Neither result either man had hoped for. Talansky got straight on the bus and didn’t come back out to speak with reporters. Gerrans talked to the press, and said he didn’t think he’d done anything wrong.

“He looked over his right shoulder while I was coming in from the left, and unfortunately just fell on my back wheel. I’m sorry he crashed, but I think as everyone saw, there was no malice in it,” Gerrans said. “I don’t think I did anything wrong.”

Garmin manager Jonathan Vaughters, meanwhile, said Gerrans was in the wrong at the team bus, but later thanked the Aussie sprinter on Twitter for an apology. He also noted that there was something of a shared responsibility for the crash in “the fog of war,” as he put it on Twitter.

“[Gerrans] moved over in the last 200 meters, which you’re not supposed to do. And the guys who are sprinting today aren’t your top, top field sprinters. Normally you expect a little bit of a safer sprint,” Vaughters said. “But, end of the day, you know this was an opportunity to win a stage for Gerrans, and he tried to put it all on the line and took some risks, whereas Andrew was trying to get out of the way. And that unfortunately was a little bit incompatible.”

Talansky wasn’t seriously injured in the crash. “Luckily we’re not in the hard, hard, hard mountains tomorrow. I think other than that he’ll be fine,” Vaughters said. “I’m not worried about it. I was really worried about it when I saw it … but now that I’ve seen him and talked to him I’ve realized that he’s fine.”

Talansky’s crash illustrates the polarity of just one day at the Tour de France and the men who ride in it. In an interview this morning, Talansky was calm and assertive and looking forward to hitting the mountains.

“I think this team, we came here with one goal, and that was to help me. And I think that’s shown over the last week. It’s the first time Garmin-Sharp has come to the Tour de France and put in such a collective, focused effort,” he said. “And I think you’re seeing the result of that out on the road. On The cobbles day, whenever there’s any wind, we’re at the front. And I think that’s just the result of the team we brought here and teamwork essentially.”

In spite of his tumble, Talansky is in eighth place overall, 2:05 back of Vincenzo Nibali (Astana).

“We’re all around there. It’s still the first 10 days. People are still fresh. I think what you’re going to see this weekend will be exiting but I don’t think it’s necessarily indicative of what the end result in Paris is going to be,” Talansky said this morning.

But it took only 234 kilometers for the unexpected to happen. And at the Tour, every day counts, though some hurt more than others.

“It’s just sketchy, that’s the one word to describe this week. It’s just nervous,” BMC’s Peter Stetina said. “Everyone rides a couple inches closer together than any other race.”