The hopes and dream of the 2016 pro cycling season for Cannondale Drapac now rest on Andrew Talansky’s shoulders.
The young American, once a top ten in the 2013 Tour de France, is now the last chance for grand tour success for the Argyle Army and boss Jonathan Vauhgters.
There were big hopes for mullet man Rigoberto Uran in the Giro d’Italia but the usual litany of crash-illness-bad luck-mysterious loss of power put end end to those plans. The Colombian rolled into Turin in a disappointing 7th place. One grand tour down, no result, two to go.
In the Tour de Fracne, there were even higher hopes for new French import Pierre Rolland. Vaughters gushed about the possibilities after seeing Rolland’s major improvements in the wind tunnel. With better support and protection in the first week of the Tour where Rollan traditionally lost chunks of time, the team was confident he could repeat his top ten in France and in a perfect world hit the top five.
Instead, the tough Rolland hit the ground repeatedly, highlighted by the hard stage 19 crash on wet roads descending off the Montee de Bisanne in the Alps. The sight of him skidding on his back across the road as if on a sheet of ice was one of the dramatic images of Le Tour. Cannonade’s mission was to “protect the egg” but depiste his mental and physical strength, Rolland could manage no better than 16th — and even that was a triumph of sorts. Two grand tours done, dusted and disappointed.
Which at least brings us to hot and sunny Spain in August for the Vuelta a Espana. It’s all in for Andrew Tolansky now. He was pulled out of the Tour roster due to an un-named personal matter and illness that compromised his build up. Out with Tour, in with the Helta Skelta Vuelta. Question is, is he ready for action and who will support him?
It’s been three years since Talansky rode to an impressive 10th place overall in his first crack at Le Grand Shindig. Since then, it’s been and up and down ride and mixed results. He was 4th overall in May in the Tour of California, then 5th in the Tour de Suisse. Where he is right now on the Form-o-meter is anyone’s guess.
This season was a name or break one for Talansky in terms of grand tour performance and team leadership. His top ten was exhilarating but since then there hasn’t been much fanfare — he was listed as co-caption for Le Tour before the schedule switch. You get two off years and then people start to wonder and the Veulta is the place for tapas, sangria and an athletic resurgence.
Hola El Pitbull. The third time is a charm, right? Good luck in Spain.