After seven years with the Garmin team, Farrar’s switch to the relatively new African squad has gone smoothly. The 30 year-old American is riding the Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista del Sol to lay down further race miles.
“It’s going well, I’m excited for the year, a new team and new environment, so far so good. Looking at wattage and all that, the numbers are all good, I’ve been healthy, I can’t really complain about anything.”
Compared to his condition at this early point in the season last year, Farrar says he’s “as good or maybe a little better.”
Farrar was second on the third stage of the Herald Sun Tour in Australia and fifth on the opening morning road race in Andalucia on Wednesday.
“Australia was good and yesterday” - on a day of bad crashes that decimated the front group - “I survived. It was carnage out there. I managed to dodge all the big pile-ups, and now we’ll see how it goes. This is a mountain climbers race so it’s mostly about training for the races to come, but there might be a sprint here or there.”
One such bunch gallop could be on Thursday's 194.7km stage from Utrera to Lucena. And although there is a third category climb close to the finish, MTN-Qhubeka are hopeful that the headwinds forecast for today could keep the pack together.
“It’s possible, we’ll certainly try,” Farrar said.
For now he has no fixed lead-out man. “It depends on who’s been here, so it’s been a bit of mix and match so far. I’ve had Matt Goss with me at the Sun Tour and that went really well, and now I’m racing with guys like Jay [Thomson] and Matt Brammeier here. It’s early season, we’re still getting to know each other as teammates, so we’re still sorting things out. But morale’s really good on the team, everything’s positive right now.”
Milan-San Remo unlikely as Farrar eyes Dwars door Vlaanderen
Although he will be racing at the opening Belgian Classics weekend in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, Farrar has his eye on the bigger spring Classics.
“It’s unrealistic to be 100 percent at that point and then right the way through to five weeks later at Paris-Roubaix. The goal is to be on the way up, but maybe not quite at the top there,” he said.
“I’ve come really close in Waregem (Dwars door Vlaanderen – he was second last year and third in 2011) and Ghent-Wevelgem (third in 2011). Then there’s Scheldeprijs which I’ve won (in 2010) and been twice second. But I love them all and we have such a strong team, we have a lot of cards to play. The goal is to come into those three weeks of racing as fit as possible.”
“We’ll see, it’ll depend on how the other guys, how the races unfold. I just want us to win a Classic this year, whether that’s me or Goss or Edvald (Boasson Hagen) or (Gerald) Ciolek or Reinardt (Janse van Rensburg). My goal is that we make it happen with somebody and I just want to be ready to help that.”
After the opening Classics weekend, Farrar will ride the Three Days of West Flanders, Tirreno-Adriatico and then the cobbled Classics. Milan-San Remo is not definitively on his program.
“That's because I have a bit of a soft spot for Waregem and that’s only three days later and we certainly have plenty of guys who have proven themselves at San Remo. We have two former winners [Ciolek and Goss] and I may take a pass on that and come into Dwars Door Vlaanderen. It depends how everyone’s health is doing, it’s the spring, guys get sick so you just have to wait and see.”
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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