Tyler Farrar is expecting Garmin-Cervélo to be one of the strongest teams next season after the American squad bolstered its ranks with a number of ex-Cervélo TestTeam riders. Farrar will head into the 2011 season with the likes of Thor Hushovd, Heinrich Haussler and Andreas Klier providing the team with one of the most powerful Classics line-ups of the peloton.
Farrar is currently in the US, resting up after a long season and enjoying some down time. In a few weeks he will he depart for the Cayman Islands for his first training camp of the season before jetting off to Australia for the Tour Down Under. However, with a limited amount of training miles on offer, Farrar and his teammates will spend most of their time getting to know each other.
"It's a team get together. I know we're riding a bit but I don't think it's serious training, more of a chance to get to know all the guys on the team and catch up. There are so many new guys coming in so it will be good to get everyone together and have a good time."
During the Cayman camp Farrar may well share a room with Hushovd in order to help develop their relationship. Currently the pair know each other well as rivals.
"I know him a bit but not as a teammate. We've always gotten along well and have been friendly as competitors. Obviously it will be a little different now but it'll be good. How will things work between us has been one of the hottest questions I've faced in the last few months but honestly we'll sit down face-to-face and look at the race schedule and make some plans," Farrar said.
Roger Hammond, Brett Lancaster, Dan Lloyd and Gabriel Rasch have also moved from Cervélo TestTeam to Garmin-Cervélo suggesting that although none of the team's 2011 roster has ever won a Monument, they will be one of the most competitive around.
"On paper we are one of, if not the strongest, teams in the World," said Farrar. "When you look to the races we have a lot of the best Classics riders out there. We've got guys who are reliable so we'll know that if things aren't going well for one rider we've got others that can take up the mantle.
"Certain guys will target certain races but the thing about the Classics is that it's always a lottery. A bit of bad luck and your chances could be ruined. If you have a strong enough team you can make adjustments on the road and you can get to the final hours with a small group and you've still got five guys and that gives us more cards to play. We've got all our bases covered for next year and that helps everyone."
Another season to build on
In his own right, Farrar had a successful season - perhaps even his best ever - winning two stages at both the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a España, as well as performing well in a number of one-day races and spring Classics.
By his own admission his Tour de France was a disaster, with a crash and fractured wrist severely hampering his sprint. It was a race that he had hoped to showcase his improved talent on the biggest stage, against the world's best sprinters.
"The Tour was a disaster," he said.
"However, winning Grand Tour stages is always good for the confidence and as a sprinter it doesn't get any bigger so it was a really successful year for me with two stages in the Giro and two in the Vuelta. I really would have liked to have taken a Tour stage, that would have been perfect, but I can't complain too much."
Next year Farrar will be aiming to improve his Tour record and perhaps be Garmin's first rider to win both a stage and take the yellow jersey. A fit Farrar sprinting against a fit Cavendish was lacking for most of this season, but the Vuelta gave a clearer indication of their abilities, with Cavendish winning 3-2 in stages and taking the points jersey.
"It felt good to know that I can beat Cavendish when I'm on. I didn't race against him much at all this year, basically the Tour and the Vuelta, and at the Tour it was a disaster. At the Vuelta I got through without any problems, took some wins and I've headed into the off season on a high."
Farrar has already studied parts of the Tour route and along with Cavendish believes that while there are a number of stages that could end in a sprint, the new points format could change how the race for green develops.
"I have no idea how that's going to work. I don't think anyone does. It changes the dynamic of the green jersey race a lot. It's going to be a learning experience for the whole peloton.
"It looks like a classic Tour. It has all the elements you would expect but the last week looks pretty nasty. For the sprinters there are still some good opportunities, maybe six or seven chances, and that's about average for a Tour. Some of the sprints are uphill and that can change things a bit but they suit Thor and I pretty well so we've got two riders who can win on those days.