Garmin set for change of direction

Garmin-Sharp will ride for Andrew Talansky and his GC challenge throughout the Tour de France. - Team boss Vaughters admits how hard it was to drop David Millar - Younger look and feel for the team start of a long-term plan

Garmin-Sharp, Majorca, February 2014
(Image credit: Andy Jones)

The Garmin-Sharp team, so long the advocates of high-risk tactics, will re-route their race sat-nav and put their weight behind Andrew Talansky for the Tour's general classification this year.

Rather than look for stage wins and entertaining racing, team boss Jonathan Vaughters says they will "tighten up" their strategy and "have a very singular focus on obtaining the highest possible place on GC."

The change isn't just for the Tour either, with the American team claiming to be at the start of a new long-term project. "I had this belief in Andrew for a long time," Vaughters said at the team's press conference in Leeds today. "This is the first building block of the next few years and it's why we have so many new riders, to be part of the foundation going forward to contend for podiums and grand tours."

Vaughters confirmed that 25 year old Talansky had just renewed his contract with the team for a further two years following his win at the Criterium du Dauphine last month.

Talansky leads a relatively new look Garmin team with four Tour debutants and several others who are more at home in the northern classics.

Gone are veteran Americans David Zabriskie and Christian Vande Velde, Ryder Hesjedal is not riding while David Millar was dropped from the team at the last minute after he was ruled by the team not to be 100 per cent healthy.

"It was a really hard call," Vaughters said of the decision to replace Millar with Ramunas Navardauskas." The list that Charly (Wegelius) gave to me after the Tour de Suisse indicated that David was going to go. We (all) agreed (on the list of names) but with the caveat that we wanted everyone to be healthy."

"Right before the UK championships, they informed me that David was on antibiotics and coughing quite a bit. We decided to wait and see if his health would return, but the results weren't very helpful, it was a last minute decision to pull him. It wasn't fun for Charly, me or anyone."

"David was the first guy that signed a contract with this programme when we moved to the first division, there's  a lot of history and we care about David quite a bit, but the end goal is the best result for the team."

The team faces a new chapter not only with its race personnel but with the name they display on their jerseys. Although it has not been formally announced it is an open secret that Garmin's contract is up at the end of 2014 and they are not expected to renew. Vaughters however does not seem concerned. "I can't really talk specifics on that, but I wouldn't sign a contract with Andrew if I didn't know the specifics were in place. There's more to come."

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