It’s almost exactly four years since Tyler Farrar claimed his one and only Tour de France stage but next month the American is set to return to the race for the first time since 2012.
A year earlier, when he won a stage into Redon, Farrar was at the top of his game, with talk of a green jersey challenge mooted before the race.
In the intervening years he has battled back from several crashes and resulting losses in form, and has dropped down a division to Pro Continental team MTN – Qhubeka, who will be making their Tour de France debut next month.
There’s also been a change in Farrar’s role. The days in which long lead-outs would carry him to the line are long gone – in fact he was virtually fending for himself at Garmin in the end – and he has now reinvented himself as a lead-out man.
"This is our final pre-Tour de France tune up and everyone seems to be riding pretty well. I’m on track and I’m here to give Eddy Boasson Hagen a hand. That’s gone well but for me this race is mostly boot camp so I can suffer my way into top shape," Farrar told Cyclingnews ahead of stage 5 of the Critérium du Dauphiné.
Boasson Hagen, 28, has notched up a couple of top-five places already in the Dauphiné this week, where he and Farrar are fine-tuning their working relationship.
"I’m excited about the Tour. It’s been a few years since I’ve been there and it’s cool to be part of this team and their whole story."
The team’s story certainly generates coverage in the media but on the road it's the wins that will make the biggest difference, and Farrar has enough awareness that the team’s best chances of success involve him leading out Boasson Hagen in the majority of the sprints. It’s not 2011 anymore and Farrar is not as high in the sprinting pecking order as he once was.
"There’s been quite a progression in field sprinting over the last few years. It’s a pretty amazing generation of sprinters at this point. I think that my role is mostly about trying to help Edvald. I may get a shot at a few stages but I’ll be there to play any role that the team needs me for – whether it’s sprinting, leading out or on the cobbles.
"I still have my moments in the year where I think that I can sprint at the top level but it’s here and there. I have a lot of experience but the goal is that the team needs to win. You have to ride for the fastest guy and maximise your chances. It’s a bit of a transition for me but I like it."