Talansky skips Tour de France and will lead Cannondale in Vuelta

American Andrew Talansky has re-signed with the Cannondale Pro Cycling Team and will lead the team’s general classification push at the Vuelta a España later this season.

Talansky is fresh off a fifth-place finish at the Tour de Suisse and showing a return to form after a tough spring, which included a long regiment of antibiotics to clear up a chronic sinus infection that hampered his performances. He will skip the Tour de France.

“It was not always the plan to skip the Tour,” Talansky said. “However, a bit of background is necessary to explain how we arrived to that decision. I had a very personal issue — you could call it a family crisis — in February, shortly after arriving to Europe. It was a very traumatic and difficult few weeks, and it basically meant that for three weeks the bike was the last thing I was thinking about. Family always comes first.”

He then raced Paris-Nice where he crashed near the end of a mountain stage and quickly fell ill afterward.

“While thankfully everything was improving family-wise by that point, it was still weighing heavily on me and being sick on top of it was difficult,” he said. “I have had quite a few episodes of getting sick over the past couple years, so the medical staff decided to help me dive into looking for a possible reason. We ended up doing sinus scans that showed significant blockage and chronic inflammation, which indicated that I was very susceptible to repeated upper respiratory tract infections that could then progress into a more severe illness. That is exactly what I had been experiencing.”

Talansky underwent antibiotic treatment for the month of April, and while he was able to train and race, he wasn’t at his best. It was then that he and team CEO Jonathan Vaughters began looking at the Vuelta as a Tour alternative.

“I finished the antibiotics the day after Romandie and day by day could feel my strength coming back towards Tour of California,” said Talansky. “For the first time in a long time, I felt like myself during that race. I had a great time supporting Lawson [Craddock], put in a strong TT, and came out of it better than I started. From there the momentum continued to build in training toward Tour de Suisse, and I was able to put in a good nine days there. However, we still decided to stick to the original plan of focusing on the Vuelta. While I was able to race well in Suisse, I was still not at my best – I was lacking the foundation that a solid spring of racing and training provide.”

“He had a tough spring, and that’s no secret,” Vaughters said. “The Vuelta was the plan for a while, and his result at Suisse, while promising, isn’t indicative of the form he’s capable of achieving. Rather than rush him into the Tour based on the Suisse result, it’s best to allow him to target the Vuelta and ride for the podium there now that his sinus issues have cleared up. It’s a long way away, the Vuelta always gets a few extra contenders from the Tour de France fallout, but we know Andrew can do well in Spain. I’m looking forward to it.”

On re-signing with the Cannondale Pro Cycling Team, Talansky described his feeling as being “thankful”.

“If there was one word to describe how I feel, it would have to be thankful,” Talansky expressed. “As I said before, I think a lot of people began to doubt what I can do in this sport. It surprised me a little bit. It’s during the tougher times that you really figure out who the people are that believe in you. It’s easy to back someone when they are winning, when they are good. It’s much tougher and takes commitment to support someone when they are down and seemingly out.”

“This is exactly what JV and Cannondale have done for me. They believed in me during the worst of times and they showed their commitment to helping me get back to my best by re-signing me. That is not the thinking of someone who just wants results in the immediate, but rather the thinking of a team, and management, that really want to help a rider get the most out of himself. I believe that there is a lot more I can accomplish in this sport.”

Talansky signed with the Slipstream Sports franchise in 2010 with Garmin-Transitions, and his first professional season was in 2011, where he finished in the top 10 at the Tour of Romandie. Talansky, 27, finished seventh in the 2012 Vuelta, 10th in the 2013 Tour de France (his first) and 11th in the 2015 edition of the Tour. He won the 2014 Critérium du Dauphiné in daring fashion.

“I believe in his potential, long term,” Vaughters said. “He’s hit a bump in his career, Swiss shows he’s back on track, but we re-signed him before that result anyways. I believe in the kid. It’s that simple.”

For Talansky, the focus now moves to the roads of Spain.

“I’m motivated and excited,” he said. “While the Tour de France is a very important race, the Vuelta is still a difficult and respected Grand Tour. I really like the Vuelta. It was my first Grand Tour. In 2012 I finished seventh there. That was kind of a breakout result for me, showing that I could potentially hold up to three weeks of racing. I feel like I have a lot more to give now. I will be honest when I say we really want to be in the fight for the top five and with a little luck the podium.”

“I am committed to that goal and I really want to put up a good fight in the Vuelta as a thank you for all of the support the team has given me through some very trying times. I enjoy the heat, I enjoy the fans and the atmosphere as a whole is always great. While I will obviously miss being a part of the Tour de France team, I have no doubt that all the guys will have a great race. I’ll be cheering for them every day!”