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Farrar Q&A: On head injuries, winning again and Armstrong

  • By Andrew Hood
  • Published Feb. 6, 2013
Tyler Farrar is hoping to put the disappointment of 2012 behind him this season. Photo: Graham Watson | www.grahamwatson.com

ADELAIDE, Australia (VN) — Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) wants to forget 2012 and return to the sweet spot he enjoyed during a three-year run that established him as one of the most consistent sprinters in the bunch.

The 28-year-old endured a frustrating 2012 season marked by narrow misses, crashes and a season-ending concussion with only two ticks in the win column.

This year, Farrar is putting aside last season’s early focus on the spring classics and returning to his roots. His season will be built around bunch sprints and regaining his kick.

VeloNews sat down with Farrar for an extensive interview during last month’s Santos Tour Down Under. Here’s what he had to say about sprinting, Lance Armstrong, and the challenges facing today’s peloton.

VeloNews: This is your 11th year as a pro. Are you starting to feel like a veteran?
Tyler Farrar: Somewhere in the middle. I don’t feel like I am an old rider yet, but I am not a young rider, either. Eleven years is a while. I’ve picked up some experience along the way.

VN: How do you sense where you are and still want to do?
TF: I certainly have a lot of ambition left. I do not feel like I am anywhere near the end. Last year was a pretty disappointing season for me. I was not at all satisfied with it. I am very motivated this year to get back to my best, to get back into that groove that I had been in for the three years before. That’s my number one goal for the season. I am happy where I am at in my career. I like the trajectory it’s taken. I am happy here at Garmin, this is my sixth year with the team. It’s been a good home for me.

VN: With only two wins last year, you certainly cannot be satisfied with that.
TF: Not as many wins as I would have liked. I had some disappointing periods. Crashing out at the Giro, not crashing out of the Tour, but having crashed a lot and having a pretty bland Tour as a result of it. It wasn’t the year I hoped for. I have to turn the page and try to get things back on the right track.

VN: What changes are you making for 2013?
TF: There are a few things I’ve tweaked coming into this year. Last year, there were a few things I had changed over the winter to focus on the classics. I don’t have the feeling that that worked. In a way, I’ve gone back to basics, training more the last months like I was in 2009, 2010, 2011, hopefully that will pay dividends when it comes to sprinting. Getting back on the track and doing a bit more speed work. More of a sprint focus in my training. I am a sprinter. I’ve got to focus on that.

VN: You focused on the classics in 2012, but you seem to suggest that it was a mistake?
TF: I put effort toward that last year. I did get stronger when it came to the cobbled climbs and pavé, but I wasn’t strong enough compared to the best guys. We’ll see. I am going to stick with what I know works and see how my body responds. The classics are still my favorite races of the year, hands down, and the races that I dream about most. You also have to admit what your strengths and weaknesses are as a rider. As a pro, you have to play to your strengths.

VN: Your best success came when Julian Dean was leading you out. How much of a factor was his departure last year?
VN: I have a good relationship with Robbie Hunter. The lead-out wasn’t my problem last year. In the first part of the year, I was simply not sprinting fast enough. I hadn’t trained for sprinting in the winter and I was totally focused on the classics. I lost some speed. It was a very frustrating year. When I focused back on sprinting, I crashed a lot, spent a lot of time coming back from injury. You’re always playing catch-up at that point. It wasn’t until August that I was back on the front foot. Not what I wanted.

VN: You crashed out of the Giro with a cut hand and then crashed several times in the Tour. How was that experience?
TF: It started going wrong, and it just kept going wrong. Frustrating is the only real word I have for it. I didn’t have an injury that was bad enough to take me out of the race. I was too stubborn to throw in the towel. I just kept plugging away at it. It wasn’t as if I was accomplishing much and making it to Paris.

VN: You came back to Colorado and won two stages, then crashed again in Britain. How did that happen?
TF: The first stage (at Tour of Britain), there was a massive pile-up right at the finish of the first stage, roughly with 1km to go. All of sudden there are a bunch of guys in front of me. There was nowhere to go and I launched. It was a sprint lead-out. I whacked my head pretty hard.

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Andrew Hood

Andrew Hood

Andrew Hood cut his journalistic teeth at Colorado dailies before the web boom opened the door to European cycling in the mid-1990s. Hood has covered every Tour de France since 1996 and has been VeloNews' European correspondent since 2002.

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