Tyler Farrar Interview: Motivated by Scheldeprijs win, aiming for Paris-Roubaix
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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Tyler Farrar Interview: Motivated by Scheldeprijs win, aiming for Paris-Roubaix

by VeloNation Press at 2:16 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews, Tour de France, Giro d'Italia, Vuelta a España, Spring Classics, Paris-Roubaix, Tour of Flanders
 

Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) and Tom Boonen (Quick Step) are the most obvious favourites for tomorrow’s Paris-Roubaix Classic but, behind the two past winners, there are a large number of other riders who could be fighting it out at the end.

Tyler Farrar (Garmin Transitions) is heading into the race determined to make the most of his strong form. On Wednesday he won the Scheldeprijs with a superb final sprint, following up from a recent win on the final day of the Three Days of De Panne and then fifth last Sunday in the Tour of Flanders.

Still just 25 years of age, Farrar has marked himself out as one of the big stars of the future. He hit a real purple patch last season, taking a string of big results including the Cyclassics Hamburg, three stages of the Benelux Tour, stage 11 of the Vuelta a España and two stages plus the overall classification in the Circuit Franco-Belge.

This year, he appears to have hit a high level of form early in the season and he feels that this bodes well for the months ahead. Aside from a good ride on Sunday, his goals for 2010 include stage wins in the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France, as well as the world road race championships in Geelong, Australia.

Farrar took time out from his final preparations for Paris-Roubaix to speak to VeloNation about a range of topics, including the Scheldeprijs victory, his Classic season, his plans to start three Grand Tours in 2010 and sprint rival Mark Cavendish’s relatively quiet start to the year.

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VeloNation: Congratulations, Tyler, on what was the first-ever victory by an American rider in Scheldeprijs. What was your reaction to grabbing the win?

Tyler Farrar: Well, that was one of my big goals for the spring, because it is one of the semi-Classics that can be a sprint. So obviously that was one I was targeting. It is great, it is the first really big semi-Classic I have won in the spring. I won Vattenfall last year but that was in the fall, it is a different race. This is pretty exciting, I am really pleased with it.

VN: How did the finale go for you, in terms of how things all panned out?

TF: It was a little chaotic in the last few kilometres – a lot of teams were trying to take charge, but no-one could quite get control of the peloton. There were guys going everywhere, but for whatever reason I had pretty good luck and I was always able to find the right wheels. I jumped on QuickStep when they were leading it out for the last kilometres, and I had a pretty smooth ride in to the finish.

VN: It was a little peculiar the way Quick Step did it as Boonen led out his team-mate Wouter Weylandt instead of it being other way around. Do you think this was a bid to repay Weylandt back for help in other races, or what was going on?

TF: I think so, yes. Tom is one of the favourites for Sunday so it probably helped to go into Wednesday not having the stress of trying to win, just knowing he was there to do the leadout for someone else. It is a very different approach when you are racing that way. His big goal is this weekend. 

VN: You had a victory in De Panne as well, so things have clicked for you this season. They also clicked for you last year, in that you had a purple patch over the summer, several months after you started racing. Was it a case of you taking a while to get the necessary form, or was it also about luck and confidence coming together at the same time…in other words, what is the process that goes into getting a run of successes?

TF: Well, it seems like once you get the ball rolling, it is easier…you get the confidence and it is easier to keep winning, once you get started. As you said, I had a really good stretch last year. It usually takes me a while to ride into form…most years I am usually best at the end of the season.

This year I have made a really big goal of the spring Classics, I have been really focussed on it all winter and have trained pretty hard. It has gone pretty well. I am totally happy with my Classic season so far; I have met the goals I have had, I have won a few races, I had a decent ride at Flanders and in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. For me, the spring has been a complete success, and I hope we can finish it off by putting one of our guys on the podium on Sunday.

VN: You were fifth in Flanders. Did you feel good throughout the race?

TF: I felt great on the day. I had some back luck, though, I actually crashed twice during the race. The second time I crashed, I was kind of ready to just call it a day, but Matt White told me to get back on the bike and try to finish, to see how it played out. I wasn’t really hurt in the crash, I just lost a bit of skin.

Anyway, I had good legs and I kept making the splits. It came back together in the last few kilometres to sprint for fifth, and I was the fastest guy left in that group. That is pretty huge for me, that is better than I thought I could do at the Tour of Flanders. I didn’t really expect to run a top five there, so it is really exciting. For me, it is my favourite race in the whole world…in general, even just as a spectator. I think it is one of the coolest races out there and to ride well there is awesome.

VN: You also live in Belgium, so that must make it even more special to have performed in what is one of the biggest races in the country…

TF:  Yeah…it always seems that I find extra bit of motivation for those races. When you are racing next to home, you have friends there and it is nice.

VN: Was David Millar much of a help to you in the finale?

TF: Yes, sure…David was off the front for so long with those guys and almost held on to it to stay away for fifth. He got caught right as my group caught the second group, and it all came together. He gave me a really nice leadout for fifth. That shows what professional he is, that even after being off the front for the whole time, he still gave me a good run-in.

VN: You will ride Roubaix on Sunday – what are your ambitions for the race?

TF: I am really excited for it. I think my form is exactly where I would hope it would be for the Classics. Since Gent-Wevelgem, I have been right in the mix in every race. My condition is good, and I think we have a really strong team with Martijn [Maaskant] and Johan [Van Summeren] and Dave and myself – we have a lot of options to play.

I think going into it, Martijn and Johan are our two best bets for a big result, and Dave and I are more there to help them. If things play out differently, we can see what we can do. But both of those guys have proven themselves before in Paris-Roubaix and they are both amongst the best in the world as regards racing over the stones.

VN: You have been winning a long time and have been around for a few years, but you are still a young rider. Naturally people tend to get stronger as the years go by. Do you think that the Classics are races that you will really target, in terms of your future career path?

TF: Yeah, as I said I made a really big push for the Classics this year. One of my biggest objectives of the year was the spring. It is going quite well. I have done what I hoped I would do. I hope that I can continue to develop in that direction as well as being a good sprinter, and to continue over the next few years to be one of the guys going for the win.

VN: If you look at the history of Flanders and Roubaix, a lot of good sprinters have won. A two hundred metre sprint is obviously quite different to a long Classic, so what do you believe is the reason for this good crossover?

TF: Well, not every Classics rider is a good sprinter and not every sprinter is a good Classics rider, but there are a lot who can do both. There is a lot of fighting for position throughout the day in the Classics, which is kind of similar to fighting for position at the end of the race in a field sprint. So being good at that as a sprinter obviously helps you a lot in the Classics to go into the crucial points in the first positions.

And then the spring Classics are not exactly mountainous; that helps a guy like me. If they put big climbs in a race, I am not going to be there, but I can survive over the hills of the Tour of Flanders, where it is more of a prolonged sprint to get over them, as opposed to a long, drawn-out climb, like even in Liège-Bastogne-Liège or something like that.

VN: You said that Roubaix is the end of the Classics push for you, so what is your programme like after that?

TF: I have been pretty much full gas now since the opening weekend in Belgium with Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, so I will take a little break after Roubaix, shut it down after a while. Then the next up will be the Giro, that will be the next big objective.

VN: Some people have opted for the Tour of California over the Giro; what is it about the latter which works better for you?

TF: Well, I will go wherever the team wants me to go. I think the team wants to make a really big push for the GC in California. They want to send a team fully committed to that. I am only so hopeful when it comes to trying to win the overall. Whereas in the Giro, I think they want to go with more of an eye to try to win stages. It is just makes a little more sense to send me to the Giro, with some guys to do the leadout and to try to win some stages there, and to just send our good GC riders and climbers to California.

VN: The Tour is the focus after the Giro. You had second and third places last year, I guess you want to grab that stage win, following up from your stage in the Vuelta…

TF: Yeah, I hope so… Hopefully it will work out.

VN: The dominant sprinter last year in terms of stages was Mark Cavendish. However if you look at the season thus far, he has been a lot more quiet than before. How is that perceived within the peloton?

TF: Well, he hasn’t quite had the early season that he had last year. He had the dental issues which set back his training a bit, but being a rider of his calibre, he is going to come back to the top level. I have no doubt about that…he already won in Catalunya, and I am sure he will be right there when it comes to the races later in the year.

I think he's doing California instead of the Giro, so I probably won’t come up against him until the Tour. But I am sure he will be plenty fast by then.

VN: Have you and the team changed anything this year that might make the difference against him and others in the Tour?

TF: Well, we brought in a few more guys who are strong guys for the leadout, Robbie Hunter and Murilo Fischer. Unfortunately they both got hurt this spring so that leadout plan got derailed a little bit. But they are both on the mend now and they should be healthy again by the Giro. We will try to dial that in a little more.

A lot of times last year, it was just Julian and I really going for the sprints. Now we will have a few more guys to spread the effort.

VN: What about the world championship – will you aim for that too?

TF: Yeah, I am going to try. It makes for a pretty busy year, but I did all three Grand Tours last year. Obviously I didn’t finish them all but I started all three. That is kind of the plan for this year as well, it worked pretty well. I think if you want to be competitive at the worlds, you need to ride the Vuelta. That is the best preparation you can do. So I will go there and hopefully get some good results at the Vuelta, then see what I can do at the worlds.

VN: What would you advise young up and coming sprinters in terms of what to do, to get the best out of themselves?

TF: Well, the biggest change for me was that I spent too much time working on my weaknesses, and not  enough time working on my strengths. That was one of the biggest things I changed last year, I started working with a new trainer. I’d spent so much time before trying to get better at climbing and get better at my limiting factors, but I wasn’t training my sprint enough to maximise things. He said that you are never going to win a race in the mountains, but you can win a race in the sprint. So you need to focus a bit more on that in your training.

VN: So did you do it with more sprinting intervals?

TF: Yeah, getting out behind the motor during sprint workouts, getting into the gym and working on your strength…that kind of thing.

VN: Finally, will you have any special modifications to the bikes for Roubaix?

TF: Nothing too crazy. We ride the bikes with a bit more clearance so that we can ride the nice fat tyres, but that is about it, Nothing way out there, really.

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