The team has been ravaged by injury and illness in recent weeks, with David Millar, Ramunas Navardauskas and Jack Bauer crashing or going home sick. Martijn Maaskant has struggled to deal with a knee injury, while new signing Nick Nuyens was forced to end his spring early after further complications with a persistent hip injury.
It has left the team desperate to fill rosters, let alone pick up results, with only Johan Vansummeren able to finish Gent-Wevelgem last Sunday.
The former Paris-Roubaix winner may have crossed the line in second last place a week ago but he will lead the team in Flanders, with Farrar picking up the baton for Scheldeprijs.
“It hasn’t been the greatest Classics season for our team so far but it’s not finished yet and the most important races are still to come,” Farrar told Cyclingnews on the eve of Flanders.
“Johan is our best Classics rider for these races now. We had some injuries and sickness and it’s worn on our team a bit but we’ll do everything we can to help him at Flanders and again at Roubaix.”
At the directors’ meeting in the centre of Bruges on Saturday evening Geert Van Bondt put a brave face on the team’s predicament but with so much bad luck and injuries the former pro rider has the difficult task of picking his riders’ morale up and getting the best out of them in the coming races.
However, Vansummeren has form in rescuing the team, having soloed to a Paris-Roubaix win in 2011 when the team had underperformed when expectation had been far greater on the Classics unit.
“Millar was sick and is at home now. We had Nuyens with his hip and Maaskant with his knee problems, so we’ve not had our best few weeks but we’ve got Vansummeren who is getting better and better. Also Farrar is getting better and Maaskant is making improvements for Flanders and Roubaix.”
“We were a little bit disappointed with the result but tomorrow Van Vansummeren is the protected rider. In these races coming he’s really focused and Gent-Wevelgem isn’t really his speciality. Johan will lead but also we hope Tyler can do something, maybe in a break because he was very strong last year.”
“After Gent the morale wasn’t great. Then we did recon on Wednesday and the guys were riding together and looked good and since then the morale has improved and the guys know they have to do their best. Vansummeren is getting better and he just needs to pump it up and go for a good result. It’s just a shame that Nuyens isn’t here but if you take Cancellara or Sagan away from their teams then RadioShack and Cannondale would have the same problems.”