By Gregor Brown
Andrew Talansky, winner of the Critérium du Dauphiné in June, stopped at the side of the road due to severe back pain during Tour de France stage 11. Just when it looked like he was about to quit, he got back on his bike and then suffered alone through to the finish to make the time cut – just.
"I'm just suffering quite a bit from my crashes," Talansky said after battling through the 187.5-kilometre stage on Wednesday. "I have some really bad back pain but I just wanted to make it to the finish for my team.
"It was for my team-mates, for my team and the work that they've put into this Tour for me. I didn't just want to stop and go home that way after everything they've done for me."
The 25-year-old American led team Garmin-Sharp into the Tour de France and was considered one of the favourites to win. Three crashes and time loses ruled him out. Today, the crashes took their toll.
He was gapped off the group early on and the team said that it decided not to send any men back with him because there was a risk of him missing the time cut. Talansky stopped on the side of the right side road with 60 kilometres to race, spoke with sports director, Robert Hunter and appeared ready to abandon, but continued solo to the line.
"He was highly emotional," Hunter said. "I told him the decision is up to him, if he found himself in a situation where he can't continue, then no problem, but if he wanted to fight on and get to the finish because that's the kind of guy he is then the only way we're are going to get there is by riding. You saw that he wanted to get up and finish. That's his character and the way the team works, as well.
"He thought that maybe it was time to stop the Tour, he sat down and got the emotion out of it and thought about it, and decided to continue to the finish."
Talansky finished 32-05 minutes behind stage winner Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Belisol) and inside the time cut of 37-13. When asked how much pain he was in, he replied, "A lot."
Hunter explained that he will decide tonight with Talansky, the team staff and the doctor if Talansky's Tour de France will end in Oyonnax or if he will continue to start tomorrow in Bourg-en-Bresse. He currently sits in 44th overall at 47-09 minutes back from leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana).
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