Why be a sprinter or a Classics specialist when you can be both? That's a rather simplistic way of dissecting the ambitious nature and aspirations of Tyler Farrar, who is once again set to co-lead Garmin-Barrcuda's assault on the Spring Classics.
The American flyer is coming off the back of a disappointing outing at Milan-San Remo where he was dropped after the first serious climb of the race but despite the setback, and his winless start to 2012, he remains quietly optimistic ahead of the remainder of the spring Classics. But come the finish line of Paris-Roubaix, Farrar will switch focus to sprinting and his Giro d'Italia and Tour de France rides.
"It's fair to say that San-Remo didn't go well," he told Cyclingnews on the eve of Dwars Door Vlaanderen.
"It wasn't my day. I made it over Le Manie and then it split when we came back down to coast and that was it. I never saw the front of the race again, which was pretty frustrating. I guess you could say it was a positioning thing, in the sense that I was going backwards. I hung on at the back of the bunch but as soon as it split, that was it."
Despite his result in Italy, Farrar is chalking up the experience as solid training, adding the 300 kilometres from Milan to San Remo to an already busy training period that has seen him replace sprinting sessions with time on the cobbles of Belgium.
Having based himself in Gent for a number of years he is well accustomed to the roads and conditions but as soon as the Classics are mentioned Farrar's eyes light up, displaying part of the reason why he chooses to devote a third of his season to them.
Farrar will co-lead Garmin-Barracuda in Wednesday's Dwars Door Vlaanderen, with Heinrich Haussler and Sep Vanmarke also playing significant leadership roles.
"This is a race that doesn't come to a sprint every year but it's possible. We have a couple of cards to play and we'll see how the race unfolds," said Farrar, who finished third in the race last year.
"This is the beginning for all the big classics so I hope my form is good because if my legs aren't good now then it's going to be hard to change that, so the training went well this winter and I've gotten through the prep races intact and healthy. The form has been good, okay the results haven't been exactly what I'd hoped for, but they've not been terrible either. I'm cautiously optimistic."
"My training has changed a bit. Last year the Classics went well, again I didn't win, but I had a few close calls so I said that I wanted to make an effort for them this year and really focus on more Classics-specific racing this season in the winter and less so on the sprint training. That meant long days of racing and instead of sprint workout, training on the cobbles instead."
Farrar's desire to compete in the Classics and the sprints at the Giro and Tour de France has not yielded any negativity or frustration from his employers, who have resoundingly backed the American by supporting his love and desire to progress in the Belgian Classics while also strengthening his leadout train for the sprints. It's a tactic that has reaped decent rewards, with Farrar scooping up his first Tour de France stage win last year. However the American has hinted that as he develops and matures as a rider he may need to alter his focus. But what appears imperative is Farrar's ability to constantly analyse his performances. Three days on from San Remo and he is able to talk about his performance frankly and honestly, admitting that it may be a race he can never win.
"I don't think things have been working too badly to try and do both sprints and the Classics. I may change my mind down the road. But the reality is that sprinting is my strength but I really love the Classics and these are my favourite races so I want to give them 100 per cent. I think there's enough time in the calendar to do both," he told Cyclingnews.
"I don't think that at this point in my career I'm the type of rider to win from small breakaways. I'm not there. I've haven't shown that I can be with the leaders when it splits down to five riders so I need the race to come down to a smaller group at the finish. Last year in Waregem there was maybe 40 riders left so if there's a group that big I can still be there and take a crack at it."
"You have to be realistic about what your strengths are and set your goals accordingly. I could say something stupid, like my goal is to win on the Tourmalet, but no matter how hard I train for that it's not going to happen. That's not realistic. You have to be honest and say this is what I'm good at, then look at the calendar and say, these are the races that suit my strengths and this is what I'm going to target."
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