Tyler Farrar of Garmin-Slipstream only had one man left between himself and the Tour de France's stage two finish line in Brignoles on Sunday: Mark Cavendish. Again, the young American finished second in a Grand Tour bunch sprint, and as much as he was happy to be up there with the best, he admitted that it was starting to frustrate him.
"This is my first Tour, and to become second behind Cav, well I can't say that I'm unhappy," he told Cyclingnews after the stage. "Still, this must be my ninth second place this season, and after a while that does tend to get frustrating. But there will be more opportunities to come, starting tomorrow."
The 25-year-old may have been beaten to second several times this year, but he also came out victorious against Cavendish in the third stage of Tirreno Adriatico this year. A win against the world-class sprinters is therefore well within the American’s reach. So what does it take to beat the Manxman?
"There really is no trick to beating Cavendish, except to be really, really fast. But the way he is sprinting right now, he's was unbeatable today," said Farrar.
Belgium's star sprinter, Tom Boonen, was not up with the best today as a crash in the final kilometre hampered the Quick Step rider. In tomorrow's stage three to La Grande-Motte, Boonen will aim try again for a victory. "Boonen is also one of the best, and I have a lot of respect for him," said Farrar. "But personally, I try not to focus too much on the other sprinters, because when you do that, you miss what's happening. But I've sprinted against Boonen many times already, so I know him well."
Farrar, who didn't see the crash that ruined Boonen's chances, didn't have any complaints about the preparation for his sprint today. "I didn't see the crash, as it happened behind me. Julian Dean drove me into the finish, and once again did a perfect lead-out to put me in perfect position. But then, Cavendish was just so fast again..."
Asked if the Tour de France bunch sprint finished felt different to those in the Giro, Farrar said, "The sprints here are a bit different to those at the Giro, because there are many more sprinters to compete against, and the fight for positioning is also more intense. Still, my rivals are the same guys, so it doesn't make that much of a difference."