Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions) did not win a stage in the Tour of Qatar or the Tour of Oman but returned to his European base in Ghent convinced the 12 days of warm weather racing will give him the fitness and sprinting speed to soon take his first win of 2010.
Farrar finished second in two sprints, losing to Francesco Chicchi (Liquigas-Diomo) on stage six of Qatar and to Daniele Bennati (Liquigas-Diomo) on stage two in the Tour of Oman. Farrar was a key part of the Garmin-Transitions team that was second in the opening team time trial and was in the top five in sprints on five other occasions.
"The results are a good sign for me personally about where my forms at and I feel I've been really consistent. I'm a rider who usually needs to ride into shape. I usually need a month of racing in my legs before I feel I'm really on top form, so I'm pretty happy with where I'm at for this time of year."
Classics riders work together
Garmin-Transitions lost Steve Cozza and Kirk Carlsen during the Tour of Qatar. Cozza broke his collarbone, while Carlsen fractured his shoulder. The team brought in new lead out man Robbie Hunter for Oman and he joined another new signing Murilo Fischer from Brazil as Farrar's lead out train.
That helped Farrar finish fourth, second, third, fifth and fifth in the five sprints finishes. Importantly Farrar also made the decisive split on stage four when the race was decided in the wind.
"The team rode really well. We had a lot of new guys on the team at these two race and now we've got to know each other better and better," Farrar said.
"Apart from Steve Cozza and Kirk Carlsen getting hurt in Qatar, I think we can only take away positive things from Qatar and Oman. It was goods for preparation for everyone. Five or six of the eight guys who raced in Oman will be riding with me in the Classics. It's a big chunk of our Classics team so things look good."
Riding two six-day races with only one day between them was an intense way to begin the season. But Farrar is convinced it was not too much.
"It's certainly been a lot of racing but I think the organizers did a good job in balancing the length and difficulty of the stages," he said. "It was hard racing but they didn't send us over the edge. I think every one was tired at the end but it's a good way to get the racing in your legs. I think everyone who did this block will be going pretty well in a few weeks down the road."
From sun block to snow
Farrar had to apply sun block before each stage but faced training in the snow and rain in Belgium. But that's not a problem for Farrar. He comes from Washington State and prefers living in Ghent rather than with most of his teammates in Gerona, Spain.
"It's going to be a shock the first day or two but I'm used to it. I spent the whole winter riding in cold weather at home," he said.
"Racing in the sun in Qatar and Oman was a nice reprieve from slogging away in the rain and single digit temperatures in Belgium. I don't think it'll be a problem getting used to the cold. I'm lucky that I'm going to take it easy and do some recovery rides at the start of the week and then get ready for Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne."
After Saturday's Belgian season opener, Farrar will head to Italy for another block of important racing. He'll ride the Eroica on March 6 and then Tirreno-Adriatico to polish his form for Milan-San Remo and then the cobbled Classics.
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Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and Cycling Weekly, among other publications.