Team kit torn, skin red and language turning blue; Andrew Talansky was, to say the least, unimpressed with Simon Gerrans at the finish of stage seven of the Tour de France on Friday.
The duo crossed over each other during the final sprint to the line in Nancy, with Talansky’s drift left and Gerrans’ move to the right causing an overlap of wheels and sending the American pinwheeling to the floor. He tumbled on the tarmac, his bike being tossed in the air, and then came to rest in a disorientated heap.
Afterwards, it was clear who he felt was to blame.
Talansky was escorted back to the team bus by one of Garmin-Sharp’s soigneurs and he spent that short journey explaining just why he felt Gerrans was in the wrong. “He took me out for eighth place…what a joke that guy is,” he said, loudly adding that he deserved an apology.
Once back outside the bus, he quickly got on board. He later pushed aside the concealing curtain, descended the steps and threw his leg over a bike to complete a cool-down beside that vehicle, but then re-entered the vehicle without saying a word to the media. It was a clear no comment.
Team manager Jonathan Vaughters explained soon afterwards that the team’s top GC contender would not be speaking to the press. “He’s a little upset right now,” Vaughters said with some degree of understatement.
Instead, the former pro gave his own views. “Simon did come over on him. He moved over in the last 200 metres, which you are not supposed to do,” he insisted, albeit with some restraint and diplomacy. “The guys who were sprinting today are not your top, top field sprinters, so normally you would expect a little bit of a safer sprint.
“At the end of the day, I think that was an opportunity to win a stage for Gerrans. He put it all on the line, took some risks, whereas Andrew was just trying to get out of the way. And that was a little bit incompatible.
“It is unfortunate as you are trying to move out of the way, that you actually get taken out.”
A replay of the crash showed that both riders did indeed move towards each other. Talansky was several feet to the right of the centre line on the roadway, and drifted over to and across that line during his gallop.
Gerrans was also completely parallel to the barriers. He accelerated past Talansky but then swung across too soon and hit the American’s front wheel.
And that was that, at least for Talansky.
“It is unfortunate for him, but he is okay,” said a relieved Vaughters. “Physically he is all right, which is incredibly lucky, quite frankly.
“He just lost a little bit of lost skin. But if you look at how hard he went down, it is amazing that it is just that little bit of lost skin.”
Interviewed by the SBS Cycling Central crew afterwards, Gerrans was adamant that he was not to blame. “As you saw, we were in a pretty select group sprinting for the win there,” he stated. “I just saw the footage afterwards, I saw that Talansky went down.
“From what I saw, he looked over his right shoulder as I was coming from the left, and unfortunately fell over my back wheel.
He believed that the replay would show the truth about the matter. “I think that once he sees what happened too…you could see that I move from the left to the right and he was moving from the right to the left and he just fell over my back wheel.”
The duo will likely speak before the start of Saturday’s eight stage. That will give an opportunity to clear the air. In some ways the delay might be a good thing, as feelings were certainly running high on Talansky’s part afterwards.
General classification plans remain intact:
Talansky showed superb form last month when he snatched victory from under Alberto Contador’s nose at the Critérium du Dauphiné.
He went clear in an early break, built a large advantage, and then fought hard on the final climb to stave off the Spaniard’s desperate pursuit.
It was an excellent victory and underlined that he is a rider who must be watched at all times. His preferred terrain is the mountains, and he will reach that playground over the next few days.
If things go to plan he’ll shine on the climbs. Vaughters acknowledges that he will not feel 100 percent on Saturday due to stiffness, but thinks he will get through the stage.
“He is going to be a little bit stiff tomorrow. Luckily we are not in the hard, hard, hard mountains tomorrow. But I think other than that he will be fine.
“I was really worried about it [the crash] when I saw it. But now that I have seen him and talked to him, I realise that he is fine.”
Saturday’s stage concludes with a category three drag up to the line at Gérardmer la Mauselaine. Sunday’s race is very lumpy, but ends with a long downhill and then a flat run in to the line.
It is the third stage in the Vosges which could really play in his favour. Monday’s concluding ascent to La Planche des Belles Filles is a summit finish, a steep climb which could give him a platform to use his power.
“It is going to be good for him,” Vaughters predicted. “At the end of the day, Andrew’s best on really hard stuff after three weeks of racing. He will be better the longer the race goes on.
“He is not the most explosive of these guys, but you know…he moved up two or three places today, even though he crashed.”
Talanksy is sitting two minutes five seconds behind race leader Nibali, who grabbed the yellow jersey early on when he won stage two in Britain. Vaughters said that it is conceivable that the Italian could hold on from such a long way out, but that it was impossible to say.
“Yeah, he can. I don’t know whether he will, but he is certainly physically capable of it and his team is showing to be very strong,” he said. I don’t see any reason why not…you know he has got a big head start on everyone.
“At at the same point in time, we have seen Nibali crack a lot this year too. So that could happen as well…”
The big race favourite Chris Froome has already gone out due to injuries sustained in crashes on days four and five. Vaughters said that there are several others who could win, and who must all be watched.
“Obviously Contador is going to go uphill really fast,” he said. “He has maybe fallen off everybody’s radar a tiny bit because of the time he has lost, but that means he is just going to be that much more aggressive in the mountains.
“Kwiatkowski is looking good as well. Beyond that, you have got Rui Costa kind of kicking around in there a little bit. And Richie, Richie Porte. I think the race is amongst those guys.”
There’s one more too, the rider who got snarled up in Friday’s finishing sprint clash. “And Andrew. Obviously Andrew,” he added.