When talking with Anthony Gallino, Director of the California Giant Specialized squad, at the end of the Joe Martin Stage Race, one word came up time and again, frustration.
The team went from defending Andrew Talansky‘s lead to having him in 40th place after being penalized one minute for “prolonged drafting off of a vehicle” – per rule 4H13d. The rule states that prolonged drafting off of a vehicle will result for a $35 fine and 20 second penalty for a rider and . disqualification in extreme cases.
“We were expecting a fine, we were told by the moto official yesterday that we would have a fine and I said ‘fine, I have the race leader here and he’s going to get back into the race.’ It’s a legitimate fine but it’s a legitimate action to get the race leader back into the race.” said Gallino who found out about the penalty by reading the communique sent out at 1:30am.
Talansky along with teammates Sam Pickman and Sid Taberlay were penalized and fined.
Talansky was befelled by a mechanical early on in the 110 miles (177 km) stage 2, a point-to-point road race. By the time the rider had a spare bike, he and two of his teammates were dropped and trying to chase back to the field. By all reports, only his bib number was broadcast over radio tour.
“It’s frustrating that only a number was broadcast over radio tour, not team, not race leader just a number so that’s a little frustrating. The communication is a big factor in this, having two-way radios would have saved a lot of this for myself and the other directors. “ said Gallino. “The etiquette of racing. If it’s any other pro teams and the race leader has a mechanical it’s auto-neutralized.”
With no leader’s jersey awarded at the race and no race radio, some riders and teams stated that did not know that the race leader had been dropped.
“We try to run our program as professional as we can even though we’re not professional and I think we do and we get guys to the races they need to race, we get them equipment. Yes mechanicals happen, yes I don’t have the budget to have a full support team here but SRAM did an outstanding job of getting us a bike.” continued Gallino.
Gallino protested the fines and penalties but feels his team was made an example.
“A program like ours cannot be an example and that’s basically how we feel, we’re an example now and we’ll probably be thrown into the mix at a commissaire meeting, an official’s meeting sometimes this year, this is what happened. And it’s not right, it wouldn’t be happening to any of the bigger teams. We’re a paying team that comes here, pay our way here, we don’t get appearance fees, we show up, we race hard.” said Gallino. “It’s real frustrating to have this. If the kid is dropped then yeah it’s a no brainer, if it’s something mechanical, it’s just not right.”
He continued, “As a big supporter of cycling, cycling in general and the development of young riders, it really puts a black mark on it from a sponsor standpoint and as a team director standpoint so they really got to cinch it down and either do it by the book or you’re not going to pick on because you’re a smaller team.”
Gallino pointed other rules that were broken but no enforced during the race such as the time cuts on the first two stages.
The race started off perfectly for the amateur squad out of California. Best Young Rider at the SRAM Tour of the Gila, Talansky came out blazing to win the opening short time trial and take over the lead with three tough stages to go.
Twelve miles into stage 2, a movement on the field forced him off the road, where his front wheel and fork were damaged. With no race radios, Talansky rode for a couple more miles, still at the front, thinking he had a flat until Gallino came up with the team car. The team tried to do a wheel change and then noticed the fork damage. Gallino then radioed the neutral SRAM support vehicle that was already up the road with the field to request assistance. While Talansky kept riding with two teammates who dropped back to escort him, a spare bike was prepared and provided to the riders. But by that point, the leader was dropped.
“It was actually a pretty quick transition,” explained Gallino about the bike change, “two of the other riders came back to help and apparently people were yelling that the race leader has a mechanical but guys were still punching it at the front. It took a couple of guys to finally calm them down, it was calmed down a little bit but as soon at they hit that first climb they punched it again. And we have to get our guy back in….”
By the time the three riders made it back, a break was off the front and the CalGiant team led the chase.
“It’s super-frustrating because they guys absolutely slayed it yesterday and if we know we’re getting a time penalty why would we be at the front chasing stuff down. The guys just absolutely turned himself out for Andrew to keep his spot, he should have been third.”
Without the time penalty, Talansky would have dropped to third spot at 8 seconds down from the new leader.
Having something to prove, frustrated Talansky and Taberlay went on the attack immediately into the start of stage 3.
“They did it again,” said Gallino about stage 3, “even though we’re going through this stuff which we don’t want to do through. It makes us look like a cry baby to a certain extent and we’re not and we’re just trying to play on an even playing field, that’s all we’re asking for. Andrew and Sid went out and rode aggressive and lit it up and I told them, we could have packed up and just went home as kind of a protest but no that’s not what we do. We’re here to race our bikes and we’re going to race.”
Without the time penalty, Talansky had a shot at a spot on the overall GC podium.
“That’s big for Andrew as he moves up. That’s what our program is all about, to get young kids good results to move them up. It’s frustrating for some of the older guys too, for all the work that they do that’s the reward, they slay it just for them, it’s pretty frustrating.”
In the end, Talansky finished 36th overall at 1:37 down from the overall winner Luis Amaran (Jamis/Sutter Home).