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JAVEA, Spain (VN) — Cycling can be cruel and cycling can pay back the determined. In Friday’s decisive stage 19 time trial, Samuel Sánchez (BMC Racing) was on the wrong end of luck, while Andrew Talansky (Cannondale—Drapac) continued his steady upward trajectory in the Vuelta a España.
Sánchez was barreling toward a top-10 time when he crashed hard with about 7km to go in a tight corner. The 2008 Olympic champion crossed the line in tears, with possible serious injuries. It is not certain he will be able to start Saturday’s penultimate stage.
“He was really fast, and was not able to take the bike. The bike slipped out. He crashed very fast. The bike was destroyed,” said BMC Racing sport director Valerio Piva. “We put him on a new bike, and he was able to finish the stage, but I am really scared that he will not be able to start. For us, with all the nice days that we have had so far, to end like this. It is a bad, bad day for us.”
After crashing and losing his momentum, Sánchez dropped from seventh to 12th at 12:25 back after finishing 93rd at 6:29 slower than race-winner Chris Froome (Sky).
Sánchez’s bad luck was in stark contrast to Talansky’s slow but steady rise in the GC. The American posted a solid time trial, stopping the clock just 1:54 slower than Froome for seventh on the stage. More importantly, he took enough time to move 20 seconds ahead of Simon Yates (Orica—BikeExchange) to slot into fifth place overall.
After moving into the top-20 in stage 3, Talansky has been patiently chipping away at the GC, moving up nearly every day one or two places in the decisive stages. Now 2:18 behind fourth-place Esteban Chaves (Orica—BikeExchange), he is likely to stay in his fifth place spot. Talansky’s steady trajectory has revealed resiliency and determination across three brutal weeks.
If he secures fifth in Madrid, it will be Talansky’s best grand tour result of his career, bettering his seventh in the 2012 Vuelta.
Two more Americans punched into the top-20. Larry Warbasse (IAM Cycling) stopped the clock at 2:50 behind Froome for 16th, while Chad Haga (Giant—Alpecin) was 18th, at 2:51 slower.