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Points jersey could keep Tyler Farrar in Giro d’Italia longer

Farrar wins in red
Farrar wins in red

Tyler Farrar’s tightening grip on the red points jersey could keep him in the Giro d’Italia longer than expected.

The Garmin-Transitions sprinter on Tuesday  darted to his second win of this Giro following an excellent lead-out in Tuesday’s tight run into Bitonto. With the points jersey firmly on his back — he now leads with 84 points to second-place Cadel Evans’ 52 points —  Farrar says he’ll fight to defend it as long as he can.

“When I first came to this Giro, I said I would take it day by day and focus on winning stages. But I have the points jersey now and that’s a big honor,” Farrar said after winning in Bitonto. “Now that I have the points jersey, it changes things a little bit. I’ll fight to keep it as long as I can, and we’ll see what happens in the mountains. I’ll try to keep it as long as possible.”

The final brutal week of climbs across the Dolomites will be hard on Farrar and the other sprinters in the bunch, especially without the special incentive of a sprint finish waiting in the final stage.

Race organizers have included an individual time trial to conclude the 93rd Giro in Verona, leaving little to motivate the sprinters to suffer through the final week of climbing.

In fact, once the Giro turns into the northern mountains in Saturday’s 14th stage, there’s likely only one stage — the 18th stage to Brescia — that favors a sprint finish.

Even that’s not a guarantee because riders will be hungry for a breakaway victory and sprinter teams will be too tired to mount a chase, especially if their star riders start to pack it in. (Related: 2010 Giro stage details)

On Tuesday, Farrar was content to soak up his second Giro victory, though he admitted he was hoping he could have gifted the stage to hard-working lead-out man Julian Dean.

The veteran Kiwi has been integral in Farrar’s rise into one of the peloton’s most successful sprinters over the past two seasons and Farrar said he wanted to return the favor.

“I had the idea in my mind (of letting Dean win). Julian is the reason why I’ve had good success. He was perfect again today,” Farrar said. “Julian had a nice gap and I could feel that I had a nice gap coming through the final corner. When I looked back, I saw (Fabio) Sabatini coming, and the last thing you want to do then is ease up.”

Farrar said the “Argyle Express” is gelling nicely ahead of the season’s top goal at the Tour de France, so much so the team propelled him to victory when he admitted he wasn’t feeling his best.

“I didn’t feel super during the stage, because we’ve had a few hard days, but the team was impeccable. I couldn’t ask for a better leadout,” he said. “Looking at my sprints last year, the mistakes I was making were tactical. I was still learning about sprinting at the top level of the sport. The progress we’ve been making on the train is starting to click in now. It’s taken awhile to get the kinks worked out. I have 100 percent trust in my boys now. I can rest easy and I can worry about making my sprint.”

When asked if he thinks he’s the world’s No. 1 sprinter, better even than archrival Mark Cavendish, he said he’ll leave that up to the pundits.

“I’ll leave that to the journalists to decide. I don’t know. Every sprint is a different race,” he said. “I’ll let you guys make the decision about who is better.”

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