ESCONDIDO, Calif. (VN) — At his very best, Tyler Farrar is among the sport’s fastest men, capable of winning a massive sprint at a grand tour.
At his worst, Tyler Farrar finds the ground often — something that plagued him last year at the Tour de France in particular — and can be just off enough to miss the action.
This year, the Washington native is hoping to get back to his former self. He’s been focusing on sprint work, taking time to get back to the track and work on leg speed in a controlled environment.
He’s coming off what can only be called a disappointing cobbled classics campaign for Garmin-Sharp, looking for a bit of redemption as the season eases into stage racing from the frozen season of the northern classics.
“I’ve had a month off now since Roubaix. I took a little break after the classics, and I’ve been home in Seattle for the last three weeks, and I’ve been training really hard, towards Cali and beyond. I feel good about it. We’ve had a nice, consistent stretch where nothing’s gone wrong, and was just kind of able to stick to the plan,” he told VeloNews on Friday.
A very mountainous Amgen Tour of California begins Sunday in Escondido, though Farrar thinks there is at least three knock-down, drag-out sprint days, and perhaps two more chances in addition to those, with a whittled-down group. In the California sunshine, he’ll have a chance to forget about a cobbled-classics campaign that never coalesced.
“The cobbled classics were not good for our team this year. Obviously Dan Martin ripped it up at Liège, but I wasn’t a part of that. Unfortunately,” he said.
The northern races weren’t a large focus for him this year as he tries to regain his fleetest form, which has won him a stage at each grand tour.
“I still did them. I still went to try and help. But as a team, we didn’t really fire,” Farrar said. “I’m not really sure what went wrong. But there’s no question that we definitely underperformed. So, yeah. That was frustrating.
“It’s not fun being in the races and not really factoring for the win. You want your team to be there, throwing down. It was a bummer, but hopefully we closed the book on that chapter and write a better one next week.”
He’s hoping to do that by more specialized training, as opposed to trying to be good for varied races.
“I think the last couple years, I started trying to focus on too many things. Focus on the classics 100 percent, focus on sprinting 100 percent. And get better at climbing. This and that. And I think I was kind of stretching myself a little too thin,” he said.
“This year, I’ve tried to take a step back and get back to the way I was training a couple of years ago, when I was really at my top sprinting. And, you know, it’s a bit of a process. It takes a while to rebuild, especially after a season like last year, so many injuries. Just a wasted season, basically, other than a few bright spots.
“So, yeah, I hope that as the season goes on, I’ll be sprinting better and better. That’s my goal this season, is to get back to my sprinting and show that I have what it takes to go with the top guys.”
Success here in California means winning a stage, he said. And building beyond that, toward the Tour. And proving to himself he’s as good as he ever was.
“Proving to myself that I’m back, and that I can sprint with the best sprinters. And that’s winning. I want to win here, I want to go to the Tour and be back in the mix,” he said.
“If I can do that and close the season with a nice handful of victories, and a lot of that — like I say — just being consistently up there, I’ll be happy.”
His first chance may come on Sunday.
Editor’s note: Chris Case contributed to this report.