Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervélo) was the quickest in the sprint at the end of Dwars Door Vlaanderen but the American had to be content with third place as the late escapees Geraint Thomas (Sky) and eventual winner Nick Nuyens (Saxo Bank-SunGard) stayed a whisker clear at the finish.
“I wanted to win, it was important for me today, but that’s bike racing,” Farrar told Cyclingnews at the finish in Waregem on Wednesday. “It doesn’t always go your way.”
His Garmin-Cervélo team had a prominent role throughout the race. After attempting to send some of their riders clear on the race’s 12 hellingen, the men in black made a concerted bid in the finale to set Farrar up for the sprint.
“Geraint and Nick jumped away and we knew they were strong riders,” Farrar said. “After the Varent we decided we were going to ride for the sprint. Of course I was suffering also, like everybody, but I felt ok. But we just needed 50 or 100 metres more at the end.”
A lack of collaborators?
Garmin-Cervélo appeared to do the bulk of the chasing in the closing stages as Nuyens, Thomas and Frederic Amorison (Landbouwkrediet) dangled in front of the group of favourites, but Farrar refused to blame any of the other teams for not contributing more to the pursuit. “Everyone has their own tactic,” he said. “As one of the favoured teams, everybody looks to you.
We did our best. Of course it would have been nice to have had a few more teams ride and bring back the break, but that’s bike racing.”
However, Farrar’s teammate Heinrich Haussler was rather more critical of the failure of some of the other sprinters’ teams to shoulder a share of the responsibility in the finale. “We were the only team really pulling,” Haussler told Cyclingnews after crossing the line. “I don’t know why any of the other teams didn’t help because they had sprinters in there too. Pretty much for the last 20km we were on the front, then Quick Step started attacking, I don’t know why.”
Atoning for San Remo
In spite of enduring the frustration of missing out on the top prize in Waregem, Farrar was pleased with his performance and that of his squad. The American also admitted that it was something of a morale boost after a Milan-San Remo that had promised so much but delivered very little for Garmin-Cervélo, as Farrar and Thor Hushovd were eliminated from contention after crashes split the peloton on Le Manie.
“We wanted to do well in Milan-San Remo,” Farrar said. “We had a team to win there and it certainly didn’t go right. But that’s one race, and this shows that we’re back on track, although of course it would have been better to win today [at Dwars Door Vlaanderen]. We rode a good race, but Nick just rode a better race and that’s all there is to it.”
Although there is an abundance of chiefs in the Garmin-Cervélo camp this season, the squad has shown a united front thus far, and Farrar explained that the various leaders have no trouble in dividing up the objectives. This weekend, Haussler and Hushovd will lead the challenge at the E3 Prijs on Saturday, while Farrar will save himself for Sunday’s Gent-Wevelgem.
“Some races we decide beforehand, in others it’s according to how they play out,” Farrar said. “For example this weekend, Thor and Heinrich ride Harelbeke but I don’t. I just ride Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday to leave me a bit fresher. It’s pretty hard to really race on Saturday for the win and then turn around and do 230km the next day. You’re not quite on top of it, so that’s how we’ll do it.
“We know we have a few cards to play. We know I’m strong if it’s a sprint, but I’m not quite strong enough to really go on the attack the way guys like Thor and Heinrich can, so we have options.”
Dwars Door Vlaanderen saw the countdown to the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix begin in earnest, and Farrar was able to gauge the form of a number of his biggest rivals for success on the cobbles at first hand on Wednesday. He reserved the highest praise for the men above him on the podium, Nick Nuyens and Geraint Thomas.
“We had three guys riding behind them as hard as we could and we couldn’t get them back so they’re obviously going well,” Farrar said and he acknowledged the strength of their respective teams, Saxo Bank and Sky.
Tom Boonen (Quick Step) set Flemish hearts aflutter with digs on the Eikenberg, Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg, and Farrar also believes that the Belgian will again be a force to be reckoned with this year.
“Tom Boonen looks really good also,” Farrar said. “Although, being who he is, everyone looks at him, so it’s really hard to get away.”