Tyler Farrar, 24 and pro-cyclist since 2003, seems to have serious plans this year. If Tirreno-Adriatico is any indication—winning stage three and second in the last stage—then we will be hearing a lot more from him this season.
For his third-stage win, Tyler beat back a full complement of top sprinters including Tom Boonen, Robbie McEwen, Thor Hushovd and last year's sprint revelation Mark Cavendish.
This made it already four wins for Tyler in this as yet young season.
Will we see Tyler Farrar replicate Mark Cavendish's astounding 2008 season with multiple sprint wins in races like the Tour de France, the Giro and the Vuelta? And maybe even some of the classics?
His win in Tirreno-Adriatico at least indicates that he has the required top speed. But beyond that there are perhaps a few too many differences both between Farrar and Cavendish as well as Garmin-Slipstream and Team Columbia High Road.
Mark Cavendish is a sprinter pur sang; his racing is aimed towards getting in the peloton to the finishing straight and then sprint it out for the win. Currently not many can match his top speed.
Of course, that is now.
Also, Mark Cavendish is still very young at 23 and in the early years of his professional career. He may well follow in the footsteps of great sprinters like Jan Raas and Sean Kelly who became excellent spring classics riders as they got older.
With fast riders in the team such as George Hincapie, Bernhard Eisel and Andre Greipel Team Columbia High Road is better situated for mass sprint lead-outs for Mark Cavendish than Garmin-Slipstream for Tyler Farrar.
Now that shouldn't necessarily hinder Tyler in continuing pursuing sprint wins. In the current peloton neither Robbie McEwen nor Oscar Freire have teams that are suited for lead-outs or give their sprinter that kind of support during Tour de France stages and the likes.
This didn't prevent Oscar Freire from winning two stages in the 2006 race and three in the 2007 Vuelta a España.
Tyler Farrar is not only quick in covering the last 200 meters to the finish line, he has good time trial abilities and that combination could give him opportunities in races like Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders.
In the same week Christian Vande Velde also won a stage in Paris-Nice giving Garmin-Slipstream a good start into the spring season. A big overall win like general classification is still absent, I suspect the team had hoped for more from the Tour of California and also Paris-Nice.
But for now, at least the stage wins come in at regular intervals and it will be interesting to see what Vande Velde and David Zabriskie can do in Dauphiné Libéré, the Tour of Switzerland and of course the Tour de France.
Christian Vande Velde was fourth last year. “A year older, a year wiser” the saying goes.
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