By Gregor Brown
Tyler Farrar caught the world's best sprinters by surprise in Tirreno-Adriatico's stage three Friday in Santa Croce sull'Arno, Italy. The American of Team Garmin-Slipstream took his best win today over the likes of Mark Cavendish (Columbia-Highroad), Robbie McEwen (Katusha) and Tom Boonen (Quick Step).
"As the season went on last year I was better and better in the sprints," Farrar told Cyclingnews. "I put in a good winter of training, working on my strength. In the Tour of California I was getting close, but I did not have the luck. It all sort of came together today."
In the finale of the 166-kilometre stage in Tuscany there were three big teams in control: Cervélo for Thor Hushovd, Quick Step for Boonen and Columbia for Cavendish. Farrar had less ammunition, but used it well. Julian Dean, Martyn Maaskant and Michael Friedman placed him in position behind the other lead-out men.
"Cavendish came by me in the last turn and I slotted right there behind him. I held the wheel and waited for the sprint."
Tirreno-Adriatico is the traditional tune up race for cycling's big one, Milano-Sanremo. The race, March 21, comes only four days after the end of Tirreno-Adriatico. Behind Farrar today there were past Sanremo winners Alessandro Petacchi and Filippo Pozzato.
"I think that a 300-kilometre race is a lot different than this 160-kilometre one today. I know Dean is maybe better suited in race of that distance."
After Sanremo, Farrar will head back to his home base in Gent, Belgium, for the Northern Classics. He noted Maaskant will be the leader for Ronde Van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix, but that he will have his chance in Gent-Wevelgem.
Farrar's last win before Tirreno's stage to Santa Croce sull'Arno was at last year's Tour du Poitou stage one. Other past wins include a stage in the GP Correios de Portugal (2007) and Tour de l'Avenir stages (2005 & 2004).