Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions) will start his second Tour de France on Saturday full of confidence and has targeted a debut stage win as his biggest objective. The American sprinter has started five straight Grand Tour and despite not winning a stage in last year’s Tour, took a stage in last year’s Vuelta and two in this year’s Giro.
“Last year was my first Tour and I was a little less confident but I’ve proven than I’m good enough to race for the win. The experience of already having done it in the Giro and Vuelta certainly helps,” he told the press.
Farrar has steadily improved as a sprinter in the last two years but in 2010 he has been the most consistent and certainly least troubled sprinter. While the likes of Mark Cavendish, Oscar Freire, Thor Hushovd and Edvald Boasson Hagen have been affected by illness, injury and a lack of form, Farrar has racked up placings in the Spring Classics, a superb win in Scheldeprijs, and two stage in the Giro.
However the 26-year-old hasn’t’ let the pressure or level of expectations get to him. “I don’t feel like my life is changing,” he said. “At the end of the day it’s just sport and I love racing my bike and winning races. Maybe things will change if I win a stage at the Tour but we’ll see.”
The US haven’t had a realistic sprint contender at the Tour since the days of Davis Phinney, but with the Tour being a global event – the biggest cycling event on the planet – Farrar is aware how much a stage win would mean back home.
“The Tour is the race that everyone watches in America. Cycling fans know the Giro but the average person in America, they don’t really know what it is. So if you can say you’ve won a stage at the Tour that goes a long way,” he said.
One area that Garmin-Transitions need to resolve is the order of their lead-out train. With Julian Dean and Robbie Hunter on board, they possess two of the best in the business, but whereas Mark Cavendish has the reliability and dependability of Mark Renshaw, Farrar is still uncertain as to the team’s direction.
“I’ve raced with Julian a lot. I’ve not raced as much with Robbie but he’s experienced. Millar is our long-range guy and probably it will be Robbie and then Julian, but we’ve not really sat down and talked about that detail yet.”
As for the green jersey, Farrar is unsurprisingly coy: “The green will be at the back of my head but the objective is to win a stage and we’ll take green as it comes. If we get deeper into the race and it’s close, we’ll worry about it a bit more.”
Farrar’s biggest rival for green could still be Mark Cavendish. The HTC-Columbia sprinter missed out last year despite winning six stages. This year Cavendish has endured a torrid season but as Farrar knows, can’t be written off just yet.
“He’s not been as dominant this year as he has been. I still consider him one of the main contenders but I think the sprints will be more open this year. I’ve had a pretty good season so far. It’s my fifth Grand Tour. I’ve not raced that much against Freire, Cavendish or Hushovd so that might help."