Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Barracuda) will start his season at the Tour of Qatar next week but the American is firmly focused on the classics again. But with a new lead out train at his disposal in 2012, the sprinter will be looking to win on a number of fronts.
Having trained at home in the US during the winter, Farrar is now in Europe with his Garmin teammates. It has been another year of transition for the American team with ten riders leaving and Farrar’s train being bolstered with the addition of Koldo Fernandez, Alex Rasmussen and the returning Robbie Hunter.
Hunter and Farrar built a strong bond during the 2010 season, but Hunter jumped shipped within a year with the Garmin-Cervelo deal leaving him short of individual options. Now back onboard, and with Fernandez added to the mix, the new formation has more strength in depth.
“Koldo has ridden for Euskaltel his entire career but sprinting isn’t Euskaltel’s top priority, so he’s come to our team and it will be the first time he’s been in an actual lead out train,” Farrar told Cyclingnews.
“Hopefully we can make a strong pairing and work well together. I think he’s really excited to be on a team that has a strong sprinting focus.”
Farrar is aware that the perfect lead out train isn’t just about having the best three or four individuals, it’s about having double that amount, allowing for riders to split between races and ensuring that bases are covered with multiple riders having the capabilities of slotting in at any given moment.
“We know that we need a guy who is good from 1.5km to 1k, then one guy who is good within the last kilometre and then the final lead out man. You know the roles so it’s a case of finding the riders that fit those roles. When you look at our roster this year we have plenty of guys for each of those roles.”
“You can’t race with the same four riders in every race all year around. You try and keep the core together so the sprinter is never left on his own.”
While Farrar is certainly one of the sport’s best sprinters, it’s the classics that really inspire him. A number of top five placings have flowed in the last few seasons and once again the Belgian spring will be his hunting ground this year.
“I don’t pigeon hole myself. During the winter and until the finish line in Paris-Roubaix I think of myself as a Classics rider. Then I start thinking about myself as a sprinter.”
“My full focus at the moment is about trying to be good in the cobbled classics. I’ve been knocking on the door for a big result so hopefully it comes this year. I’ve had good runs, I’ve been top five in Flanders and on some podiums so I know that I’m capable of riding those races but I know that there’s a big difference between fifth and winning. Every year I’m maturing as a rider and we’ll see what direction it goes in the coming years.
"The Classics are my favourite races. I’ve always loved them more than anything else. They’ve always been a priority for me. I have a passion for them. I would love to be one of the top Classics riders."
London Olympics calling
With the Classics and grand tours playing such an integral part of Farrar’s 2012, it’s hard to imagine him finding time to concentrate on any other objectives, but he has also singled out this summer's Olympics.
Last year, Farrar took part in the Olympic test event, though the fact he was even on the start list was a shock to some, as the US cycling federation had planed on selecting riders from the U23 ranks. However, a last minute call from Farrar meant he lined up in London with a team of young cohorts to protect him.
It was a stark contrast the efforts made by the British team, who effectively had two teams on hand to help Mark Cavendish.
“That’s a function of the US Federation not putting out any effort,” Farrar told Cyclingnews.
“I wasn’t even down for test event until I called them a few weeks before and said I hear there’s a test event, I’d really like to do it. It was actually a lot of fun. For a lot of those guys on the teams it was the biggest race they’d ever done. As a pro you become accustomed to riding big events and seeing it through their eyes was invigorating and I had a really good time there.”
However, the chasm between the British and US plans for the Olympics are huge. Funding of course plays a monumental part of the situation and Team GB has been making grand plans centred on the London Games for a number of years. Farrar still has to secure a spot on the team, although it’s hard to imagine the US leaving behind their best bet for a men’s road medal.
“There’s certainly some big differences between the two. I don’t think that’s a secret. The US team didn’t have the greatest Worlds last year either so we’ll see. We have a lot of talented American riders, so I think we can field a strong team in the Olympics. It’s just up to them to select the team and hopefully we’ll get a result. I’m just hoping I get to go.”
Out of the limelight
The build up to a number of Farrar’s objectives will come with the typical amount of press and fan interest. The Classics, Tour de France and the Olympics especially are events recognised on a global scale. Farrar, a modest and private person, isn’t phased in the slightest and has adapted a strategy that helps him switch off when he’s not on the bike.
“As a professional cyclist you end up spending a lot of your time in the public eye already. I’m a relatively private person so when I leave a race I like to step away from the public sphere and do my own thing. That’s not a judgement; it’s just personally I like to spend November and December at home doing my own thing,” he said.
“For the most part I stay away, and then once a week I’ll do a sweep of the news just to keep abreast of things. I think it’s also important to focus on your own goals and your own preparation and not get distracted by what this guy is doing at that race. It’s easy to see how good someone is going, but it’s better to focus on yourself and make sure you’re ready.”
2012 is an important year for the Garmin-Barracuda rider. You can bet he’ll be ready.