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“My ambition is a podium at least. I want to be consistent in the podium places in this early season. It remains to be seen at what level of form the other favourites are but I'm confident with my own form."

Photo: Cannondale-Garming Pro Cycling

ANDREW TALANSKY

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GERAINT THOMAS

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PARIS - NICE

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RICHIE PORTE

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TEAM SKY

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TEAM SUNWEB

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WARREN BARGUIL

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07.03.2015 @ 21:10 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Andrew Talansky (Cannondale-Garmin), Warren Barguil (Giant-Alpecin) and Team Sky DS Nicolas Portal shared their impressions one day before the start of the 73th edition of Paris-Nice.

 

Andrew Talansky: «I still have the same fire»
Second in Paris-Nice in 2013, Andrew Talansky is back in the race with the same ambition and the «same fire» as two years ago, when he was only beaten for victory up Col d'Eze by Richie Porte, one of the favourites again this year in the Race to the Sun.

 

“I'm two years older, I've grown and progressed in every aspect. I have more experience but I still have the fire I had back in 2013,” the American told letour.fr on the eve of Saturday's prologue in Maurepas.

 

Two years ago, Talansky attacked boldly in Montagne de Lure but it was not enough to drop Porte, who went on to become the first Australian crowned in the race after a show of strength in Col d'Eze. Still Talansky believes he has his chances this year in the classic climb overlooking the Nice bay.

 

“Col d'Eze was one of my favourite stages, I really believe in my chances. Our team has always been very good at designing the best bikes for every time trial and one thing is for sure, I'll have the best bike on Col d'Eze. It remains to be seen it I'll have the best legs,” he added.

 

Out of competition so far this season, the Cannondale-Garmin leader believes his preparation will be good enough for him to perform for a week.

 

“My ambition is a podium at least. I want to be consistent in the podium places in this early season. It remains to be seen at what level of form the other favourites are but I'm confident with my own form,” he said.

 

The last memory of him by French crowds was his ordeal in Oyonnax in the Tour last year when he finished just inside the time limit after a crash.

 

“I had highs and lows in my career but I guess that's what you call maturity,” he said.
 
Warren Barguil: «I'm going more for stages»
After a first participation in 2013, the French Giant-Alcepin rider is back on Paris-Nice without real ambitions for the general classification but real hopes for stage wins, especially towards the end of the week.

 

On his first race of the season in the Tour of Oman, Waren Barguil was not a serious GC contender, finishing 25th. Still the Breton showed the mid-season work had been useful, especially in the stage to Green Mountain.

 

“I lost a little bit of ground at the start of the climb but afterwards I took it as a test and I went full gas to the front, overtaking lots of guys. What was interesting was that I managed to sustain the effort for a long time, something I was not capable of doing a year ago. I used to go for brief attacks and so it's a welcome change,” he said.

 

This new approach could be extremely useful on the climb of la Croix de Chabouret or in the hills of the Nice hinterland, which are also is training roads.

 

“I always need a bit of time to reach my best form and I'm not yet capable of being at the top throughout the season. This week I'm more here to back tom Dumoulin, who has a very big engine and could do very well in time trials. I see myself going more for stages and why not near Nice at the end of the week.”
 
Nicolas Portal: «Richie wants to play a leading role»
Team Sky are on the 73rd edition of Paris-Nice with the aim of playing a leading role and why not win the Race to the Sun for the third time. In this respect, team director Nicolas Portal told letour.fr that Sky would rely on two leaders, Richie Porte and Geraint Thomas, while Bradley Wiggins would give his all to take the yellow jersey in Saturday's prologue in Maurepas.

 

While 2014 was a below-par season for the British outfit, the state of a mind is an all-conquering one as the season resumes in Europe.

 

“We came here with the same ambition, which always is to win. But compared with last year and even with 2013, we're a step higher in terms of form and team consistency. Physically, Richie is completely ready. He was already at a great level in the Tour of Algarve and he is in great spirits as well. The Giro is his main goal but he is keen to start his season on a high note,” Portal said.

 

Yet caution is a rule and Team Sky are also pinning hopes on second-choice leader Geraint Thomas.

 

“You never know what can happen what with crashes or echelons in the first three or four stages. That's why we have two options with Geraint who also showed last year he had the means to win this race. He also loves the Col d'Eze time trial,” Portal added.

 

In the team scheme, 2012 winner Wiggins has a more limited part to play, mainly because of his current condition: “He came here first of all to do well in the prologue. Even though the difference is not huge between now and 2012, he still hasn't got the calibre to play a leading role in the final TT. But he's also a great champion and you can never rule out a good surprise,” Portal said.

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