Coming home, sort of
If there is a text book out there to show young Americans the best way for progressing as a...
Slipstream team camp interview with Tyler Farrar, December 2, 2007
After riding for the U.S. development program and sprinting to a U.S. criterium championship in 2005, Tyler Farrar made the jump to the ProTour with the French Cofidis team. Despite injury for some of that time, he has continued his development into one of America's top future professionals. Now for 2008, Farrar comes home to an American team just as it makes a transition to full-time European racing. Cyclingnews' Mark Zalewski sat down with the rider during the team's first camp in Boulder, Colorado.
If there is a text book out there to show young Americans the best way for progressing as a professional cyclist, Tyler Farrar probably read it. He was first noticed as a junior and amateur, winning both junior and espoir national championships while racing for the U.S. team in Europe -- winning races such as the Three Days of Axel and Tour L’Abitibi in 2002. He then turned pro with the Jelly Belly team in 2003, followed by two years of racing and learning with top American team Health Net-Maxxis. This acted as a springboard for him to the top level in Europe, racing with Cofidis in the ProTour the past two seasons.
Though his first year in Europe was complicated by a hard crash at the 2006 Circuit de la Sarthe, Farrar recovered and continued on. In 2007 he won a stage of the Correios de Portugal and finished fourth in the Eneco Tour prologue.
These results, combined with the fact he is an American, put him in the sights of Jonathan Vaughters, as he assembled his short list of ProTour riders to bring to the Slipstream-Chipotle team in 2008. In a way, Farrar is a hybrid of what the team will be next year -- at only 23 years old he is young like many of the current Slipstream riders, but with two years of ProTour racing and European living, he is on his way to being a salty veteran.
But for Farrar, the move to Slipstream has benefits for him. "In general I am just looking forward to being a part of something that is a new direction cycling seems to be taking," he said. "And being a part of this team as it is making this jump into the big time is pretty exciting. Hopefully I can help the team make that jump."
Specifically, the change back to English is a welcomed one. "It's nice, after a few years away is certainly makes life a little simpler," he said. "I spoke French just fine but speaking in your own language just makes it that little bit more comfortable. Also I've known a lot of these guys before so there aren't a lot of new faces, both with the riders and directors. So with the souigners, mechanics and operations people it is all about getting to know them now."
Vaughters is treating Farrar like a veteran -- evident from his team camp roommate assignment with Jason Donald. "Jason is one of the guys I knew the least, which is great because we are getting along really well."
Really something different
Farrar sang a similar tune to many of the other riders during the Boulder camp, saying that this team is different in almost every aspect, in a positive way. "It's incredible, the level of organization," Farrar said. "Everything is just planned, nothing is left to chance or fall through the cracks. This camp is all about logistical training. You get all the paperwork and stuff out of the way so that in January you have no concerns except the real training camp."
Farrar said he noticed a difference with the riders as well, which he sees as the best indication for a successful 2008. "Everyone is coming into this with such a positive attitude, saying this is something different. We haven't spent any time sitting around complaining about our flight schedules, which is what you spend the most time doing on most teams. Everyone is like, 'this is so great, I can't wait for next year, I am so motivated!'"
This is a good thing with what Farrar sees as the primary goals for the team next season. "Establishing this team as one of the top teams in the world," is Farrar's primary team goal. "We are jumping to a new level but we have riders who have been on the top level already. When Slipstream rolls up to the race we want them to say, 'Oh, Slipstream is here.' Or when the crosswinds kick-up, "Oh, Slipstream is moving to the front.' I want people to be afraid of us they way the were afraid of a CSC or Discovery."
Turning to his personal goals, Farrar is looking to build upon what he set out to do in 2006 before his crash and what he began to do last season. "From a racing standpoint, the classics are my first big objective of the year. I'll try to go well in Belgium and then after that wait and see, maybe take a crack at the Tour de France!"
But the most important question for all of the new riders... what about the arglye? "I have to admit I have been skeptical of the argyle, but my girlfriend loves it!" he laughed. But turning a little more serious, he said there are inherent benefits to being... different. "I think the kit turned out pretty good, even though I was worried it was going to be too much. It is a bit more in your face than before, but I think it looks good and it will show up nicely so you'll be able to pick us out. So many teams' jerseys just disappear as they sit in the group, and I don't think we'll EVER have that problem!"
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By Josh Ross