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Andrew Talansky keeps hanging in there, and is patiently waiting for the third week during this Vuelta a España.
The final week of any grand tour is Talansky’s preferred terrain, and he is steadily making progress toward the top-10 as the Vuelta pedaled past its equator in Wednesday’s dynamic stage up Peña Cabarga.
Talansky couldn’t follow the fireworks at the front of the bunch as Sky’s Chris Froome danced to victory, but moved up one spot on GC to 11th overall in his first grand tour of the 2016 season.
“Personally, I always said that the third week is usually my best in a grand tour,” Talansky told LaVuelta.com before the start Wednesday. “I’m where I should be and there are now some mountain stages that really suit me and also the time trial that suits me quite well. I’m still aiming at the best GC position as possible.”
How high the Cannondale – Drapac rider can move up remains to be seen. The top-10 is clogged up with some quality riders, with fifth through 10th divided by less than one minute. Gianluca Brambila (Etixx – Quick-Step) tumbled from 11th to 24th, and now Talansky is 1:07 behind his nearest rival, BMC’s Samuel Sanchez, but he is hoping to come close to equaling his breakout seventh place at the 2012 Vuelta.
Cannondale – Drapac has been active in the breakaways, posting three top-10s so far, and slotting riders into most of the major moves of this Vuelta. The team lost Simon Clarke (DNS, stage 11) and Patrick Bevin (DNF, stage 11) due to injuries from crashes, so the squad is down to seven going into the second half of the race.
In contrast, French teammate Pierre Rolland is not racing for GC, but hopes to win the stage that eluded him at the Tour de France. With Talansky sitting out this summer’s Tour, Rolland led the squad, but his GC ambitions unraveled following a painful crash in the Pyrénées.
Rolland was on the march in Monday’s breakaway going into Lagos de Covadonga, but knew his chances were slim when he heard the big guns were preparing for an assault.
“Two days ago I felt good, I tried my luck but when I heard that Quintana and Contador were 50 seconds behind, I knew it was over,” Rolland said. “There are stages I like, like the one in the Pyrénées to Gourette. But this Vuelta is hard to read; you never know whether the GC leaders are going to fight it out. To focus on a stage is not possible.”