Andrew Talansky Turns to Tri

Top American cyclist Andrew Talansky gave up professional cycling one month ago, and three weeks later made public his intention to take a serious run at triathlon.

He's not easing in; not taking the age group route; he'll likely avail himself of reciprocity among like sports that honor professional or elite designations.

Talansky, 28, is leaving cycling a decade earlier than most top cyclists, so he's got a lot of runway to improve as a triathlete. He's a U.S. national time trial champion, and has placed top-5 overall in the Tour of California (twice), the Vuelta Espana, Tour de Suisse. He won the Criterium Dauphine and was runner up in Paris Nice. He's been top-10 overall in the Tour de France.

Yes, that's a Canyon shirt he's wearing, and for a reason. He announced yesterday he'll ride for that German brand instead of remaining on the Cannondale bikes he rode for much of his cycling career.

Talansky emerged from triathlon into an ├╝berbiker and is now returning to his roots. He grew up around mentors like Boris Fernandez, a national team swimmer for Cuba before defecting to the U.S., and former Brazilian professional triathlete Carlos Dolabella.

I spoke to Dolabella about Talansky. "How technically good was Andrew when he gave up swimming as a freshman in high school? Was he ever as fast in the water as you?"

Yes was the answer, absolutely, but he noted that this was after his professional triathlon career. While Dolabella was a front pack pro swimmer in his prime, even when winning age group world championships he noted, "There is a big difference between my swim speed and what the pros are swimming."

I asked Dolabella what he thinks Talansky is most likely to swim would he race Kona one year from today. "Fifty-five minutes."

Talansky quit swimming to run, and his run ability is just unknown. He became a cyclist before he had a good, true shot at developing as a runner, and it may not much matter. In Ironman racing running a sub-15 minute 5k (as, for example, ex top cyclist recently turned triathlete Tom Zirbel did during his collegiate running days) might or might not be highly relevant when a 6:30 per mile marathon pace is what is required to win off the bike (if you have a big enough lead off the bike).

Talansky joins that list of pro cyclists - like Cameron Wurf, Emma Pooley, many others and of course Lance Armstrong - as triathletes who moved to cycling only to follow their natal homing instincts, returning to where they began.