March 07, 2013
Former LMC cyclist Andrew Talansky wins Stage Three of Paris-Nice

Former LMC cyclist Andrew Talansky hit an all-time career high on Wednesday, March 6 when he won Stage Three of Paris-Nice. Congratulations, Andrew!

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By Peter Cossins

Garmin-Sharp's Andrew Talansky won the third stage of "the race to the sun" in cold and wet conditions in Brioude. The American edged out Davide Malacarne (Europcar) and Gorka Izagirre (Euskaltel) to give his team their first victory of the season. Also in the seven-rider group that disputed the finish were Sky's Richie Porte and David López, Ag2r's Romain Bardet and Astana's Andriy Grivko. They finished seven seconds clear of a chase group containing most of the other favourites.

Talanksy had double reason to celebrate as he became the fourth rider in four days to wear the yellow jersey after Cannondale's race leader Elia Viviani was tailed off on the second-category climb of the Cote de Mauvagnat 15km from the finish.

Until the approach to that climb, a four-man break had led the way. Martijn Keizer (Vacansoleil-DCM), Sébastien Minard (Ag2r), Mads Christensen (Saxo Bank) and Alexis Vuillermoz (Sojasun) never gained much more than four minutes on the peloton. Keizer led over the first two climbs of the day, which put him in the mountains jersey, but there was never a chance of the Dutchman adding any more points on the Mauvagnat as the peloton began to chase hard, eventually reeling in the four leaders with 22km remaining.

Astana and Sky were particularly prominent leading into the climb and dominated the action leading up it. Once on the second-category ascent, the pace-setting of Sky's Jonathan Tiernan-Locke and Xavier Zandio soon resulted in yellow jersey Viviani dropping out of the front group. Local man Bardet and Astana's Maxim Iglinskiy both attempted to escape from Sky's lock down on the front of the race. Both failed, Iglinskiy on two occasions. However, his teammate Grivko darted away clear just before the top of the climb, quickly followed by Sky's Vasil Kiryienka.

The first part of the descent was fairly straightforward, but as the turns became steeper and tighter the wet road became much more treacherous. Soon after pushing on past Grivko, Kiryienka rear wheel slalomed after hitting a slick patch. The Sky man tried vainly to control his bike but hit the deck hard and slid into the roadside ditch. Thankfully, he was soon back on his feet.

Having done well to avoid the sliding Kiryienka, Grivko pressed on. He was joined by López, Bardet, Izagirre and Malacarne. Sensing an opportunity to gain some ground on their rivals, Porte and Talansky scampered across to the leaders as well. Behind this group, BMC's Tejay van Garderen led the chase.

With 5km remaining, the pursuit appeared to have succeeded as the leaders' advantage fell to a mere five seconds, but then it started to stretch again. Van Garderen, team-mate Philippe Gilbert, Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma) and Andreas Klöden (RadioShack) all attempted to inject more urgency into the chase, but the seven leaders managed to stay clear.

Malacarne made the first move going into the kilometre-to-go banner, but Porte chased him down and hammered into the home straight, clearly determined to ensure the group held its advantage. Bardet led out the sprint, triggering an immediate response from Talansky, who jumped out of the middle of the group and shouted with delight as he crossed the line.

"This is really important for me because Garmin-Sharp sent a whole team here to help me for the overall. So to win a stage here and take the jersey is a big step in my career," said the 24-year-old American. "When I realised we were going to go all the way I tried to figure out a way to win this. I have a good sprint out of a small group."

Having claimed the yellow jersey, Talansky now aims to keep it. "It's nice to be in the jersey. It's always easier to defend something than to fight to get it. There's still a lot of good riders in contention, but we will do what we can to keep the jersey. The Montagne de Lure is a really good climb for me. The final time trial on the Col d'Eze is another good one for me, especially that one. I think overall victory is possible."

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