Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervelo) was left ruing what could have been after leaving his sprint a fraction too late on the Tour’s 15th stage to Montpellier. The American, chasing his second Tour victory and his team’s fourth, ran out of road and was forced to settle for second behind sprint maestro Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad).
"It was a stressful day with lots of wind but the team rode all day and got me into good position in the finale," Farrar said after the stage. "I really wanted the win today but unfortunately it just didn’t turn out."
New Zealander Julian Dean partly blamed himself for a lack of acceleration off the HTC-Highroad train in the final 500 metres.
"I was pinned on the wheel [of the HTC train]. I couldn’t come off the wheel [with enough kick] to give Tyler the extra bid of speed he needed to win," Dean explained.
Sprint-ace Robbie McEwen was critical of Garmin-Cervelo and Omega-Pharma Lotto's tactics, calling their approach to the finale as akin to being led to the slaughter.
"Farrar did the fastest sprint, but HTC and Cavendish were just far more organised," commented the Australian on his Twitter page. "To be honest i expected more [from the other teams] in the final kilometre but they simply weren't organised enough."
Although not winning today, Garmin-Cervelo’s Tour de France has been far from disastrous. The team time trial victory on the second day of the race opened up the floodgates for the American team, with Farrar (stage 3) and Hushovd (stage 14) both taking memorable wins.
For now the team’s focus will return to rest and recovery - and then - for Farrar and Dean - survival. A hilly traverse to Gap, followed by three key Alpine stages and the Grenoble time trial, mean there will be no chances for a bunch dash again until Paris.
"I don’t think there are realistically any opportunities until Paris," agreed Dean of the days ahead. "We have some tough days ahead of us. Those three days in the Alps are going to be really tough - so it’s survival mode for a few days [and then Paris]."