TOTANA, Spain (VN) – Andrew Talansky is making his grand-tour debut with one simple goal: arriving to Madrid.
The 22-year-old rookie has had a phenomenal debut season, with top 10s in a handful of time trials and the best young rider’s jersey at the Tour de Romandie.
For his first crack at a three-week tour, the Garmin-Cervélo rider wants to get his feet wet with the primary goal of putting 21 stages of hard racing into his legs.
“I am excited to be here. Like I’ve said from the beginning, I have no personal aspirations. It’s just to get a grand tour in my legs,” Talansky told VeloNews. “I just want to get to Madrid and help out the team when I can along the way.”
Talansky admitted he had some jitters in the opening stages, but things quickly got down to the business of racing with the TTT and two challenging road stages.
He slipped his chain in the opening team time trial and pushed through his first road stage unscathed in Sunday’s second stage. On Monday’s cooker, he rode in with the second chase group at 3:06 back.
“I dropped my chain 2km in. We planned to take it a little easy, started in the small ring, went through a round-about, went to shift and the chain went over the outside and ended up having to stop and get it back on,” he said. “So it just ended up being training for the next TT in this race, I guess.”
Garmin-Cervélo is keen on its promising youngster, but team brass are not putting pressure on him during the Spanish tour.
“Here’s here to learn and get the experience of racing for three weeks in his legs. If he can make it to Madrid, that’s already a success for any young rider racing their first grand tour,” said Garmin DS Bingen Fernández. “He has a big future. He’s a complete rider, but it’s too early to say what rider he can develop into. With young riders, you must give them time to develop their skills.”
Many peg Talansky as a potential grand-tour GC contender for the future, but right now, he’s content to race this Vuelta to learn the ropes.
“Starting the Vuelta has been a dream of mine, a big goal of mine, so there was some excitement going into (Benidorm),” he said. “Maybe I can give the TT on stage 10 a go, we’ll see how I am by that point. Maybe in the second or third week, I can try to get into a break, but that’s about it. The main goal is to get to Madrid.”
Liquigas all for Madrid
Liquigas-Cannondale start with another prodigious grand-tour rookie with Peter Sagan.
The Italian squad left Sagan off this year’s Tour squad because it didn’t want to put too much pressure on him too early. The Vuelta is an ideal proving ground for a rider who seems destined for super-stardom.
“The Tour would have been too much for Peter. Remember, he is only 21,” said Liquigas spokesman Paolo Barbieri. “The Vuelta is perfect for him to race his first grand tour. Maybe he can win a stage, but he’s here to learn and to help Nibali. We are here to win this Vuelta first of all.”
Like Talansky, one of Sagan’s primary goal is to make it to Madrid for the finale on September 11.
Liquigas-Cannondale starts with the idea of having all nine of its starters finish the race.
The Italian squad carries a unique streak coming into this Vuelta: all nine starters in eight of the last grand tours Liquigas has started arrived at the finish line with the entire team intact.
GC: Pablo Lastras (Movistar) pulled the double, winning the stage and claiming the red leader’s jersey, now 20 seconds ahead of Sylvain Chavanel (Quick-Step). Overnight leader Daniele Bennati (Leopard-Trek) lost contact on the final climb and tumbled to 46th..
Mountains: Lastras leads despite tying his fellow breakaway companions with opts. He was first over the day’s final climb, earning him the jersey honors. Points: Lastras leads with 28 points to Chavanel’s 26. CJ Sutton (Sky) slipped to third with 25.
Combined: Who else? Lastras leads the category, with Chavanel second.
Team: Movistar leads Quick-Step by 16 seconds
All 197 starters finished the race.
Continued warm, with temperatures in low 30Cs in valley, cooler in the Sierra Nevada, with a chance of afternoon showers at the summit. Mostly calm winds, except up on the Sierra Nevada summit, where forecasters are calling for gusting headwinds.