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Vuelta a Espana

Van Garderen packs it in; Talansky keeps moving up at Vuelta

On one hand, Andrew Talansky steadily rides himself into striking distance of the Vuelta top-five. On the other, Tejay van Garderen abandons the race.

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LUCERNO, Spain (VN) — It was a tale of two races for the top Americans in the Vuelta a España.

With just four days to go, Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) abandoned early in stage 17, while Andrew Talansky (Cannondale – Drapac) keeps clawing his way up the leaderboard, climbing into sixth place overall.

“The bad news is that we lost Tejay,” said BMC Racing sport director Valerio Piva. “He was not good at the start of the stage, and he was immediately dropped.”

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Van Garderen started Wednesday’s stage 95th overall, and was hoping to make a run for a stage at some point throughout the Spanish grand tour as well as ride in support for his teammates. Twice fifth overall in the Tour de France, van Garderen has struggled over the past few seasons. He abandoned both the Tour and Vuelta in 2015, and this year rode to 29th in the Tour, bypassed an opportunity to race for a medal at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games, citing a fear of the zika virus, and pulled the plug in extreme heat Wednesday.

“He came into the Vuelta without the best preparation, and we were hoping day by day that he would be better,” Piva said. “I think the fatigue [set in], and the day after the rest day is always a difficult time for him. That is disappointing for him, but that is the race, and we need to stay concentrated on the other team goals that we can achieve.”

Talansky, meanwhile, keeps banging away, and moved up from seventh to sixth overall after a solid ride up the explosive Mas de la Costa climb. Talansky came in 41 seconds behind the GC leaders, and passed ahead of Samuel Sánchez (BMC Racing) into sixth.

Friday’s long time trial favors Talansky, and he could nudge even higher up on GC with Saturday’s steep uphill finale.

Talansky skipped this year’s Tour to race the Vuelta taking a long view on GC, with a heavy emphasis on the final week. Here’s what he said at the beginning of the race nearly three weeks ago: “The individual TT and the stage 20 uphill finish are two I am really looking forward to. I am usually my best in the third week, so having some harder stages back-loaded like that leaves a lot of opportunity to move up the standings at the very end of the race.”

That’s a bet that seems to be paying off as he steadily continues to make upward progress.