American Tyler Farrar is learning what it takes to win a sprint at cycling's biggest race, the Tour de France. He is participating for the first time in the race and has achieved two top three finishes after the first 10 days.
"I think the speed is there for me to win," he said in Vatan Wednesday. "It is just a matter of everything else, if it all falls in place."
Farrar, 25, raced his first Grand Tour at the Giro d'Italia stage race in May. He faced established sprinters Mark Cavendish and Alessandro Petacchi, finishing second twice.
The Tour is going just as well for Farrar. He placed second behind Cavendish on the first road stage to Brignoles and fourth, second in the group sprint, on last Wednesday's stage to Perpignan. He placed third behind Cavendish and Thor Hushovd on Tuesday in Issoudun.
"I don't think I could have changed much with yesterday -- Mark was certainly the fastest guy. It was a very technical run in and I think we were a little surprised by the turns.
"Looking at the profile of today's (Wednesday's) stage, it should definitely be a sprint. We will try to do the same thing and I hope the legs are better."
There are three more sprints possible in this year's Tour de France. Garmin-Slipstream has two men dedicated to Farrar to help him win: Dutchman Martijn Maaskant leads first and then New Zealand's Julian Dean takes over in the final metres.
"I watched all the sprints after the Giro, and I changed a few things for the Tour. Julian and I want to hit the front in the last 500 metres. If that works out it should be good."
Farrar managed to beat Petacchi and Cavendish for the first time earlier this year. He caught the two by surprise in stage two of the Tirreno-Adriatico in March.
"I have proven to myself it is possible, it is just a matter of doing it again."