Tyler Farrar (United States) came into the Olympic test event in London as one of the favourites, but an untimely puncture, followed by an even more untimely crash ruled him out of contention as sprint rival Mark Cavendish (Great Britain) ruled.
Farrar was leading an inexperienced American team that comprised of a number of under 23 riders from the likes of Trek-Livestrong. Up against the numerical advantage of Great Britain and Team England, plus the strength and depth from the Australians, the Americans were always going to find the going tough.
However up until the final kilometres, Farrar looked to be on course for at least a shot at the sprint. That was until Cavendish clashed with a Japanese rider. Cavendish remained upright but the Japanese rider fell, bringing down Farrar in the process.
"That's just the way it is out there. It's half professionals, half amateurs who are maybe in a bit over their heads and it was a bit dodgy at the end. Some guys fell in front of me and I went into them," Farrar told Cyclingnews, after limping home behind the main group.
"Before that I had been feeling quite good. I came here to try and win, and I wanted to do this sprint and see how it felt, so it's a pity. That's bike racing."
Farrar's participation - he was the only US pro to attend - should be seen as a clear indication of how seriously he is taking next year's Olympic Games, when he will line up as his country's best shot at a medal. The course, although far from flat, suits his style of riding and capabilities and should the race come down to an expected sprint he should feature.
"It's a nice course. It's interesting, and I think the circuit is harder than people were giving it credit for. So nine laps of that circuit will be quite hard, especially for guys like me, but on the other hand it's still a long way from the finish so there's still time for it to all come back together. It will be an unpredictable Olympics," he said.
"I still think it will come down to a sprint, but I'm not sure on the size of the group."
Despite his own misfortune Farrar was full of praise for his young teammates.
"They did great. They should be pretty proud of themselves, especially Ian Boswell who rode the front practically from start to finish. They're young guys but they were committed to try and help me out and they did a really good job. We just didn't have the luck."
Yet the Olympics are still a year away, and Farrar has more immediate goals to concentrate one, most notably the Vuelta a Espana which starts in August 20, and the Worlds, which come a fortnight after.
"My form is pretty decent. I took a pretty big rest after the Tour. I'll ramp it up and go to the Vuelta. I think that's the best way to prepare for the Worlds. Hopefully I'll come out of there in good shape and have a good ride in Copenhagen."
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