One year has passed since Tyler Farrar made his Grand Tour debut at the Giro d'Italia, and after a bit of down time following a full spring campaign the Garmin-Transitions sprinter is coolly confident ahead of the Italian Grand Tour.
After early frustrations at the Tours of Qatar and Oman, Farrar notched a pair of victories later in the spring, taking a stage at Driedaagse De Panne plus his first victory during the Classics season at Scheldeprijs.
"I'm really happy with how my spring campaign went. For the most part I met all the goals I set for myself over the spring," Farrar told Cyclingnews.
"Once we wrapped up the Classics with [Paris] Roubaix I had a week completely off and enjoyed some down time. I then spent a week at home getting into the swing of things training and then I came down to Girona for the past 10 days to really hit it hard and bring the form back for the Giro.
"It's always a little strange jumping into a race when you haven't raced in a month, but I feel like my fitness is pretty good."
With a lead-out train bolstered by the addition of Brazil's Murilo Fischer, the 25-year-old American enters the Giro with a stage win as his goal after coming tantalizingly close to victory several times at last year's Giro. "My level of experience is much higher going into the Giro than last year," said Farrar.
"For the sprint days I'll have Julian [Dean] and Murilo [Fischer] and also probably Dave Millar chipping in a bit to try to really string it out in the last kilometre or two and take control of the race. Hopefully that will pay off with a stage win."
Farrar is familiar with his sprint rivals at the Giro, including Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-Farnese Vini), André Greipel (Team HTC-Columbia), Robbie McEwen (Katusha) and Greg Henderson (Sky), and the Garmin-Transitions sprinter has his own game plan for success.
"I think it's important to approach it as riding the sprint that's best for you and not worrying about what other people are doing as much," said Farrar. "You certainly have to be aware of who's in the race and which sprinters are there but mostly it's running your own plan and trying to react to the way the race is unfolding in the finale."
In addition to the goal of Farrar taking a stage in the first two weeks, Garmin-Transitions has targeted the 32.4km stage four team time trial as a major objective.
"With our team any time we're in a race with a team time trial that's a huge priority," said Farrar. "We've staked it out as one of our strengths and it's something we take really seriously. We came a fairly close second in the team time trial of the Giro last year, the team won the TTT in the 2008 Giro, so hopefully we can continue that trend and challenge for the victory this year, too.
"We did a bit of work together in Girona to get the guys on the [time trial] bikes and rotating through and getting the feel of each other again."
After starting the 2009 Vuelta in the Netherlands, Farrar is looking forward to once again kicking off a Grand Tour in the country. "I think it makes it interesting and adds a different dynamic to the race," said Farrar. "The Netherlands is pretty cycling crazy so it's fun to go up there and race.
"It's certainly going to be a different style of racing the first few days. We have the potential on one of the days with a lot of racing down the coast for some pretty nasty crosswinds. It could make the race very exciting and shake things up in a different way than they traditionally are in the Giro."
Farrar started all three Grand Tours in 2009, notching five top-five stage finishes in each, culminating with his first Grand Tour victory in stage 11 of the Vuelta a España. He finished the Tour de France and went 14 and 11 stages deep into the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a España respectively. At this year's Giro, Farrar is taking a wait-and-see attitude regarding his stint within the peloton.
"When it comes to this Giro the priority is trying to pick up a stage in the first two weeks and after that we'll take it as the race comes," said Farrar. "We'll see where I'm sitting in the points competition and how I'm feeling. I don't want to dig myself too deep of a hole at this point in the year, but when you go into one of these races you never know how it's going to go three weeks down the road."