American Andrew Talansky climbed to the final step of the podium in Pasadena on Saturday. Following a win on Mt. Baldy and a ride to third in the individual time trial at Big Bear Lake, Talansky finished in third place overall at the Amgen Tour of California. It’s the first WorldTour general classification podium for Cannondale-Drapac this season.
“I’m really satisfied with the week overall,” said Talansky. “Obviously the goal was always to win. I wanted to repay all the hard work and effort the team put in this week. My teammates here believed in me from day one, and they rode their hearts out every day. I’m happy I could end up on the overall podium and come away with a win on Baldy for them.”
Cannondale-Drapac’s week was not without hiccups. The American-registered squad lost Toms Skujins to a high profile crash on stage two, a stage that also saw Talansky make a self-admitted ‘tactical error’ that cost all but four of the overall contenders 37 seconds. On the finale of what was meant to be a straightforward sprint stage, Talansky flatted as Quick-Step Floors upped the tempo on the run-in to the line. Brendan Canty handed over his bike. Nate Brown and Taylor Phinney paced Talansky back to the bunch.
“They saved my race,” said Talansky. “I would have a lost a minute or two, the overall podium, right there without them.”
The tide turned on the queen stage when Talansky proved strongest and smartest on Mt. Baldy to claim Cannondale-Drapac’s first WorldTour win in two years. Talansky’s performance on Baldy afforded him a jump to fourth overall within 44 seconds of the race lead.
Talansky backed up his victory atop Baldy with third in the penultimate stage time trial. The ride earned him a spot on the overall podium, 36 seconds behind New Zealander George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo) and one second behind Polish road champion Rafal Majka (Bora Hansgrohe).
The top three on general classification remained unchanged following a spirited final stage decided by a breakaway of six.
“The end result involves everybody – swannys, mechanics, our director Tom [Southam] here. It’s absolutely a team effort,” said Talansky. “A lot of the work these guys do to support me and that the riders do on the road to support me goes unseen. You don’t see it on TV, but it’s a constant process as any of them will tell you. It’s a full time job to make sure we’re well-placed, well-fed, well-hydrated, well-informed, that our bikes are working, our bodies. Everyone involved did their jobs to perfection this week.”
Talansky’s results in California are his best from five starts.
“I didn’t have fantastic experiences here in 2011, 2012, and I was little frustrated because it was a race that I really wanted to do well at in my adopted home of California,” said Talansky. “I took a couple years off from racing California, returned in 2015 and made it 30 kilometers into the Sacramento stage before I dropped out sick.
“I came back in 2016 and things turned around,” said Talansky. “We were supporting Lawson Craddock, and my own personal result ended up being solid as well. Finishing in fourth place here last year really motivated me. I had such a good time here, and it was a turning point in my season.”
Talansky became a father in early March 2017 and delayed the start of his season due to his commitment to his family. He started both Volta Catalunya and Vuelta al Pais Vasco but illness prevented him from finishing either the Catalan or Basque race. When he lined up for Amgen Tour of California, he had only eight race days in his legs.
“I think I’ve shown what people have always known about me, which is that I don’t need a lot of race days to show up fit and ready,” said Talansky. “I definitely haven’t raced much, but that leaves me fresh and on a good path toward July.”
His path includes a start at Critérium du Dauphiné, which he won in 2014, and a ten-day altitude camp before he heads to Germany for the Grand Départ.
“It’s a simple, straightforward preparation,” said Talansky. “There’s some recovery, some racing and a few good training rides to fine-tune the form toward July. The racing in Tour of California served as a solid way to back up all the training I did at home. The goal has always been to build up all the way to the Tour de France start line on July 1st.”
Talansky has endured a tumultuous three years between his last WorldTour win nearly three years ago at Critérium du Dauphiné and his Amgen Tour of California stage win on Thursday. Riding out those storms makes this success all the sweeter.
“I’m pretty proud of this week,” said Talansky. “In this sport, people are quick to write you off. That’s really unfortunate, that “what have you done lately?’ mentality. I hope what I did here reminds people that when you have that ability inside yourself and you dedicate yourself to a goal and work hard in pursuit of the goal, the results will come. It’s a matter of patience and time.”
“I think we saw Andrew return to racing form, which bodes well for the months to come,” said Slipstream Sports CEO Jonathan Vaughters. “I’m happy for him and the team.”