Talansky and teammates got discounts and free repairs at Bikes To Go in South Miami, run by Max Berger. Amick, by then divorced, brought the mechanics her famous banana bread and lasagna in gratitude.
That kid was all about studying for school and training, Berger said. To make it in Europe as a pro is very unusual for a cyclist from Miami.
Talansky hasnt forgotten his roots: When cyclist and young father Aaron Cohen was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver on the crest of the William Powell Bridge in 2012, Talansky joined the outcry and advocated starting a legal fund. When Miamian Manny Huerta competed in the 2012 Olympic triathlon, Talansky sent his support.
As a freshman, Talansky won the collegiate championship at Lees-McRae College in North Carolina before dropping out of school to concentrate on cycling. He spent an unhappy season with the Amore & Vita team in Europe, living in the servants quarters of an old villa in Lucca, Italy.
Looks beautiful from the outside but hasnt been updated in 400 years, Talansky said. No heat, no hot water. Crammed in one room with four Russian guys, a psychotic American and some random guy who would come and go. I was miserable, got sick, came home.
Back in the United States, he raced alone out of the back of his Honda Fit, slept on sofas with host families and put all expenses on his credit card. He got dropped by the peloton in races, and contemplated quitting.
Then, he won two races, joined the Cal Giant Specialized developmental team and met Kate Fox at an event near Lake Tahoe. They are engaged to be married in October.
I knew nothing about cycling but when I met him my heart just skipped a beat, said Fox, a bodyworker who was into snowboarding, snowmobiling and dirt-bike riding. His overall being and energy I know its a cliché but we knew we were meant for each other.
Talansky improved as one of the Berries the team sponsored by Cal Giant strawberries.
He rode so aggressively we figured he would either blow up or be the real deal, said team director Anthony Gallino. An intense fire burns within him, and he learned to channel those emotions. He can climb, sprint and time trial, and when you are that well-rounded with his lung capacity and physiological gifts, youve got an exciting career ahead. Hes one of the most genuine, classy, polite and joyful kids Ive ever met.
During a breakaway climb at the 2010 Tour of the Gila in New Mexico, Talansky caught the eye of Garmin director Jonathan Vaughters, a former pro who had confessed to drug use and founded the maverick team. Talansky signed a contract and is among the teams top riders, nicknamed Pit Bull. In March, he finished second overall and won stage 3 on a cold, rainy breakaway descent of Paris-Nice, a prestigious five-day race that Talansky calls a miniature Tour de France. In the Criterium du Dauphine earlier this month, he overcame a stomach bug to finish third on the last day behind Team Sky stars Froome and Richie Porte.
Andrew is young and while its his first Tour de France hes coming off a great season, Vaughters said. Our approach is a little unconventional but weve managed to come up with surprises every year at the Tour. Our goal is to animate the race with an aggressive strategy and we will aim to place high in the general classification.