After years of competing against Mark Cavendish, Tyler Farrar is preparing to do quite the opposite next season and will become part of the Manxman's lead-out train. Farrar, who has been with the MTN-Qhubeka (to be known as Dimension Data in 2016) for the past season, tells Cyclingnews that he is looking forward to beginning a new part of his career and helping his former sprint rival.
"It will certainly be different," he told Cyclingnews at the team's training camp in South Africa. "I was riding along with Eisel today and I said to him 'would you ever have thought five or six years ago that we would be teammates?' It will be a different chapter in my career but it will be really fun to be a part of the lead-out train that we're going to put together and I'm excited."
Farrar and Cavendish stepped into the professional peloton around the same time, with the American making the move in 2006 and Cavendish following a year later. They often clashed in sprints and afterwards because both were competitive and out to win the high-speed sprints. Farrar was probably at the peak of his powers between 2009 and 2011 when he took six stage victories in the three Grand Tours. His win rate has decreased in recent years with 2015 the first time that he's ended the season without a victory since his debut nine years ago. The 31-year-old admits that it would have been difficult for him to work with Cavendish at the peak of his career.
"Had this happened four or five years ago it would have been a whole different vibe coming together," admitted Farrar. "I've certainly tapered off in the last few years in terms of winning. I still pull a victory out here and there, but I haven't won with any consistency in a while but Cav has been right there for a long time. In the world of cycling, it is all about victories and you're not going to support a sprinter to go for third place, you're going to support a sprinter to go and win. That is how it works. I'm really excited to be a part of probably the best lead-out train in the world next year."
Mentoring the young riders, Qatar World Championships a major goal
Farrar appears to have settled well into this new position in the African team and seems happy to have moved away from the role as a lead sprinter. In return, the team are happy with how he's been performing - despite the lack of victories - and extended his contract into 2016. As well as his new career as a lead-out man, Farrar is targeting a few of his own objectives while he enjoys playing guide to the younger riders within the team.
"I think I'll still have a few chances of my own, but I foresee my role next year being part of that lead-out train," said Farrar. "Then I'll be continuing in the role that I did this last season as a captain and mentor for the younger riders. It has been a transition in my career but I've been really enjoying it."
Farrar will target the Classics, his favourite time of the season, before looking to go to the Tour of California in May. He will once again aim for a spot in the Tour de France squad but knows that with the current talent in the team it will be a tough challenge to make it. Farrar also has his eyes on the Qatar desert next October when the World Championships roll into town. With the course set to be pan-flat, he is going to take the chance with both hands. Farrar made an aggressive late attack in this year's World Championships in the USA and is keen to fly the flag for the USA again in 2016.
"You only get so many opportunities in your career for a Worlds that really suits your skill-sets. I think next year in Qatar is definitely one of those chances for me and it will be a big objective at the end of the year. I'll break the season into a couple of parts and then I'll really target the latter part of the year," Farrar told Cyclingnews.
"I think it's going to be a really hard to predict how the World Championships will go. Anything could happen. There are no mountains, so it's not difficult in that way but if there are raging winds from the start then we could be in eight groups after 10km and it could be one of the hardest Worlds, or it could be a calm day and we have a 200 rider bunch sprint or anything in between."