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Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Slipstream) shortly after his win in the 2009 Vattenfall Cyclassics
American sprinter Tyler Farrar favourite for Vuelta's golden jersey and stage wins
American Tyler Farrar is a favourite to win the Vuelta a España's opening stage on Saturday and wear the gold race leader's jersey. The race starts with a 4.8-kilometre time trial in Assen, Netherlands, similar to the one he won in the Delta Tour Zeeland.
"I won't be easy, but I am hopeful and I am certainly going to try," Farrar (Garmin) said to Cyclingnews. "I had a good prologue at the Eneco Tour last week. I was second by three-tenths of a second."
After previewing the flat stage on Thursday with his teammates, Farrar said he likes it. He believes that he has a chance to win if the time trial is less than five kilometres, and anything more is territory for the time trial specialists.
He won the 2.7-kilometre time trial and took the leader's jersey in the Delta Tour Zeeland in June on his way to an overall race win two days later.
Farrar's form is where it needs to be as he has demonstrated by winning four races in the last two weeks. He was unable to win stages in his first two Grand Tours, this year's Giro d'Italia and Tour de France, but he is more confident for his third Grand Tour.
"I am able to come in more relaxed than the other Grand Tours," he said. "Plus, for the Vuelta, I am coming off the best 10 days I have ever had."
Farrar won one of the biggest one-day races for a sprinter, the Vattenfall Cyclassics, two weeks ago. His good form continued in the Eneco Tour, where he won three stages.
He predicts that five stages in the Vuelta's first half will end in a sprint. Although Alessandro Petacchi and Mark Cavendish will miss the Vuelta, Farrar looks to Tom Boonen, Oscar Freire, Daniele Bennati and André Greipel as the obstacles between him and his first Grand Tour stage win.
"There is also Matti Breschel, second in Vattenfall, and my training partner, Wouter Weylandt. But if everything comes together, I will be capable of winning one."
The 64th Vuelta a España, from August 29 to September 20, starts with four stages in The Netherlands before it transfers to Spain. Farrar's American Garmin-Slipstream team makes its European base in Girona, near stage five's course.
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