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Tyler Farrar (Garmin Sharp) takes his first-ever win at the Amgen Tour of California
American hopes to regain sprint form in 2014
The American sprinter’s victory on stage 3 of Franco-Belge (Tour de l'Eurométropole) turned a page in what has been a difficult period in the rider’s career. It had been more than two years since his last European win - a stage in the 2011 Tour de France - with crashes and injuries an all too frequent set of fixtures in his racing calendar.
Even during the recent Vuelta a España Farrar was unsure over his future with Garmin stalling on a contract offer and a number of WorldTour teams folding. However, Garmin delivered and although a new contract offers Farrar a chance to reignite his career, he is well aware that he must repay Garmin’s faith in him and become a consistent winner in 2014.
“I’d come to an agreement about a week before the win. We’d worked out the contract and that was obviously a huge stress relief what with everything that’s going on in cycling. Having a good Franco-Belge was just a nice way to start wrapping up the season,” Farrar told Cyclingnews from his base in Belgium.
“A bit of healthy pressure is a good thing. We went back and forth on it but I do want to light a bit of a fire underneath myself and feel that pressure for next year.
“Okay, I won last week in Franco-Belge but before we start really worrying about a full lead-out I need to show that I’m consistently winning again back here in Europe. We have some quick guys on the team, though.”
Garmin have cleared the decks in the last few weeks. Dave Zabriskie, Robbie Hunter and Christian Vande Velde are among the retirees, while Alex Rasmussen, Martijn Maaskant and Sébastien Rosseler have all been asked to move on. Farrar has been with the team since its baby steps in the WorldTour and is, along with David Millar, their only rider (for 2014) to have won stages in all three Grand Tours. And although Farrar admits that other teams had provided options, he was primarily looking to remain with the American team.
“I spoke to a few people but I’ve been with Garmin for a long time and I’ve enjoyed being part of this programme and I’m looking forward to being a part of it for another year.
“Needless to say, this I team I’ve been with for a large chunk of my career and I like the culture and what Garmin has stood for over the last six years. I wasn’t really in a hurry to leave.”
It remains undecided as to how Garmin will use Farrar next season. The rider has always voiced his desire to race the Spring Classics while dovetailing those ambitions with another set of priorities in sprint finishes throughout the season. At times he has found success, with six Grand Tour stage wins and titles in Scheldeprijs and the Vattenfall Cyclassics. The last two seasons have been disappointing, with just one European win scratched up (he also won a stage at this year's Tour of California plus two at the 2012 USA Pro Challenge), but Farrar will be sitting down with the team’s management in the coming weeks to define a race programme for what could be the most important season of the 29-year-old’s career.
“We have a team camp coming up where I can talk to the team on what their hopes are and what I can focus on. The Classics are always my favourite races and I think I can ride well there and be helpful for others, even if they’re not my number one objective. I can help the other guys in a race like Roubaix.
“2012 was pretty dismal with the sheer number of crashes and injuries. That was really frustrating for me and the team as well. They would have hoped for more, just like I did. This year it’s been a bit of a re-building year and staying healthy. I’ve not won as much as I would have liked but I have been pretty consistent and I’ve started to move in the right direction. I hope that in 2014 I can be riding the way I was back in 2009, 10 and 11.”