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Broken thumb a minor setback for Talansky’s Tour ambitions

Andrew Talansky breaks thumb on Christmas eve, but to him, it's a minor setback in plans to target Tour of Calfornia and Tour de France.

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A broken thumb on Christmas Eve is an inauspicious start to a season, but Cannondale – Drapac’s Andrew Talansky isn’t worried about the injury’s effect on his lofty 2017 goals.

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Talansky was on a road he’d ridden hundreds of times near his home in Napa, California last week when he hit a patch of black ice and lost control. “Black ice is just not common where I live, and it was in a very unexpected place,” he told VeloNews. “I crashed without a scratch, but broke my thumb. That’s kind of a bummer.”

The Cannondale – Drapac rider finished fifth at the Vuelta a España this year, his best-ever grand tour finish, after skipping the Tour de France. He finished 10th at the 2013 Tour, abandoned in 2014, and finished 11th in 2015. For 2017 his focus returns to the Tour, and to a run at the Amgen Tour of California. Both goals remain unaffected by the Christmas injury, he said.

“I was able to have surgery, got screws put in and a plate, which is a great option because then you’re not in a cast for six weeks,” he said. “In 10 days the stitches come out then you can ride outside as pain allows.

After a rough start, Talansky’s 2016 season proved to be one of his most consistent to date. He was fourth in California, fifth at the Tour de Suisse, third at the Tour of Utah, and capped the run with fifth at the Vuelta.

That Vuelta finish rekindled a fire, he said, and left him determined to set his sights on the Tour de France once again.

“We came up with a program where there won’t be many adjustments through the season and I can hit my targets on the way to July,” he said in early December, before the thumb injury. “It’s been on my mind since the Vuelta finish, it’s something I’m really motivated for.”

Part of that program will be a targeted run at the Tour of California, a race in his adopted home state that his American team has struggled to win.

“It’s a race I’d love to win,” he said. “I mean California is my home now, and the opportunity to win that race would really — it would mean a lot to me and the team. Slipstream Sports has been on the podium, I think they’ve been second, third, third, second, everything, over and over, but we’ve never won the race. So I think for myself and the whole organization it would be great to win.”

“The approach that will allow me to focus on California and the Tour is a little bit less traditional. There’s some leeway. Traditionally, you’ve seen people struggle a little to fit California into the buildup to the Tour, but I think we’ve found a good way to do it.”

The injury, early in the year and relatively minor, changes little in his preparation and is only a minor setback toward his goals in June and July.

“It doesn’t change the season goals,” he said of the broken thumb. “You can’t get caught up on the smaller things that happen, things that can seem like they suck at the time. The Tour is the goal and I don’t think that, come June and July, I’m not going to look back and think anything was affected by [the injury].”