Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) had a terrible start to his Tour de France this year, but the American sprinter is slowly healing from his injuries and now hoping that he can return to being competitive on the final day of the race, the legendary run into the Champs-Elysées in Paris. Even though he did not suffer any fractures, the bruises and scrapes Farrar sustained from his four crashes in the first week of racing affected his riding substantially.
"It was a horrible first week," the 28-year-old told Cyclingnews on the race's second rest in Pau. "But I didn't want to stop unless I just physically had to. There was a day when it just about happened, stage seven to La Planche des Belles Filles. It was right after the worst crash, and my back was quite messed up. I got through the stage just barely, it was stop and go."
After the finish, Farrar went straight to the hospital and got a CT scan, which fortunately revealed that there was no fracture.
"Luckily, the issues I had were purely muscular. So I continued, hoping it gets better, and it has - slowly it's improved. It's hard for your body to heal in the middle of the Tour, as it's just such a hard race. I would have healed a lot faster if I was sitting on my couch at home! But the Tour is not something you quit lightly. So if there's any way to go on, you do..."
Needless to say, the mountainous stages of the Alps and now the Pyrenees have not been easy to overcome, but Farrar has been able to hang onto the gruppetto with the objective of perhaps being in the mix again in the last two flat stages: Stage 18 to Brive-La-Gaillarde and the final day into Paris. However, of the two stages, only one is practically certain to end in a sprint royal.
"Stage 18 could be a sprint, but it's 50/50," Farrar said. "It could also evolve like the stage to Pau, with a breakaway getting through. It's a long stage, and even though there are no mountains, it's not flat either. It's rolling hills all day. That really wears on a team to try and control the race. The question is if teams are going to be willing to ride all day for a sprint - we'll see.
"And then of course there's the goal of Paris," he continued. "I have no idea how well I'll be able to do there after the Tour I've had, but I'll be really happy even just to try and feel like I'm in the race again!"
But Farrar has his eyes not only set on arriving in Paris this Sunday, he also wants to recover all of his capacities in time for the London Olympics road race, in which he will be leading the American line-up.
Asked how he rated his chances for the Olympics, which should also end in a sprint, he said, "It all depends on how I recover from the Tour. Most of us sprinters are in the same boat. Probably 85 percent of the big riders contesting the Olympics are here in the Tour. It hasn't been the greatest Tour for me, but I do feel like I'm healing and getting healthier as the Tour goes on, I hope I can carry that to the Olympics and hope to have better luck there than I've had here."