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Tour de France

Cannondale hunts stages as prey dwindles

With a number of near-misses at this Tour de France, Andrew Talansky and Cannondale-Garmin are undeterred in their quest for a stage win.

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SAINT-JEAN-DE-MAURIENNE, France (VN) — With overall ambitions shelved, Cannondale-Garmin is now deep into operation stage win, launching all three of its heavy weapons on Thursday, again without result.

It was the second consecutive day Andew Talansky finished inside the top 10 — he was second on Wednesday’s stage to Pra-Loup. He was joined by both Ryder Hesjedal and Dan Martin in the Thursday’s big breakaway.

“We were trying to get me in with a chance at the stage. Dan [Martin] wasn’t feeling his best and Ryder [Hesjedal] obviously contributed a lot, but I just didn’t have it,” Talansky told VeloNews after the stage.

It’s been a Tour of near misses for the squad in green argyle. Martin has been second twice, on the Mur de Bretagne and in Cauterets. Talansky followed that up with another close effort on Wednesday, where he simply ran out of kilometers in pursuit of stage-winner Simon Geschke (Giant-Alpecin).

Talansky entered the Tour aiming for a top-five overall result, but took multiple hits in the first week and then a major blow on the race’s first true climb, up La Pierre-Saint-Martin. The American will not defend his 13th place on GC, he said after Thursday’s stage.

“I mean, I came here with aspirations to be top five, so anything outside that, we’re definitely not riding to defend 12th, or 13th or 15th, or 11th on GC,” he said. “We’re riding to try to win a stage, and whatever happens while we’re trying to do that is just a byproduct. We’re not a team that’s going to defend 13th in the Tour.”

“We were riding to win. We want to win something,” Cannondale sport director Charly Wegelius said. “A placing in the top-10, that’s a very honorable thing, but I think we’d rather win something.”

Talansky’s effort on Wednesday was a good morale boost, Wegelius said, adding, “It [second place] was a good experience for him to get his nose out in front of the race.”

Talansky may not be focused on defense, but he’s moving up the overall nonetheless. His aggression Thursday bumped him one place higher, into 12th overall. He is less than three minutes outside the top 10.

When 13th overall jumps into the move, other teams react. Giant-Alpecin kept Thursday’s breakaway on a short leash as both Talansky and stage-winner Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) threatened the top-10 placing of its young French star, Warren Barguil. With his stage win, Bardet took Barguil’s place in 10th.

Two opportunities remain for Cannondale, though Saturday’s stage to Alpe d’Huez is short and will likely see a GC battle cross the line first, rather than a breakaway. That leaves Friday as the last, best chance for a stage victory.

Cannondale will go again, Talansky said.

“Between myself, Dan [Martin], and Ryder [Hesjedal], I think we still have a good chance, we’re definitely going to keep trying every day,” he said. “That’s what we said before yesterday, and we tried yesterday, tried again today. Two more days to keep going.”

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