Tyler Farrar's progress over the last year has impressed his Garmin-Slipstream team's sport director, Matt White. Farrar won his first win in a Grand Tour at the Vuelta a España on Thursday after four second places in the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France this year.
"He is a different bike rider than he was 12 months ago," White said to Cyclingnews. "Last August he really struggled with the heat and the climbs at the Tour of Portugal, but we saw him making it through a medium mountain stage to win in the Vuelta."
The American Farrar, 25, won Thursday's Vuelta stage 11 sprint finish in Caravaca de la Cruz, Spain. White has watched him progress since last year. He directed Farrar to his first big win in 2009 in stage three of Tirreno-Adriatico. There, Farrar won ahead of established sprinters Alessandro Petacchi, Thor Hushovd and Mark Cavendish.
Farrar raced his first Grand Tour, the Giro d'Italia, in May. He finished second to Cavendish and Petacchi twice each. It was a similar result at the Tour de France, where he placed second twice to Cavendish.
Before the Vuelta, Farrar's fortune changed. He won one of the biggest one-day races for a sprinter, the Vattenfall Cyclassics, in Hamburg, Germany. His good form continued in the Eneco Tour, where he won three stages.
"I think Hamburg was a big turning point for him, that was a huge win," White said. "Then, after he came close so many times in the Giro, Tour and Vuelta, to finally get a win in a Grand Tour is a very big moment for him. His consistency from the Tour of California through today is a great sign for the future."
Farrar abandoned the Vuelta after his win yesterday to prepare for the World Championships and his next objective, Paris-Tours. He won the bunch sprint for fifth last year and can win this year, said White.
"Mark [Cavendish] will be the one to beat. Tyler will have good condition from the Vuelta, and he wants to try to win another Classic for the season."
Farrar believes he can win the World Championships in the coming years and wants to prepare by racing this year's climbers' course with Team USA. The next two seasons present World Championship courses suited to sprinters: Melbourne in 2010 and Copenhagen in 2011. He could become the first World Champion from the US since Lance Armstrong won his title in at the 1993 edition in Oslo, Norway.