Tyler Farrar was hoping to win a stage at this year’s Vuelta a España, but he didn’t expect it would be in Wednesday’s 198km hilly run from Guadix to Lorca.
The Garmin-Transitions sprinter suffered through Tuesday’s challenging stage to Valdepeñas de Jaén with a nasty stomach bug, so much so the team doctor was worried he would have to abandon. Farrar never gives up easily, but then he crashed on loose gravel Wednesday near the feed zone as the peloton was ramping up the chase.
Farrar overcame all those setbacks and railed home one of the most important victories in his growing palmares, roaring past nemesis Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) to post his seventh win on the 2010 season.
“I was ill yesterday. I was vomiting all day during the stage. I wasn’t feeling very confident and I decided to sit in the bunch and see how the stage went. I felt better and better,” Farrar recounted. “It’s nice (to beat Cavendish), but it’s more important to win a stage in the Vuelta. That was my goal coming here. Of course, it’s always to win against the most successful sprinter in the world, but my priority is to win.”
An ecstatic Farrar was hugging teammates at the finish line in Lorca. With ace lead-out man Julian Dean still banged up from crashing ahead of the team time trial on Sunday, Farrar counted on some other Garmin teammates to help out in the sprint.
After a four-man breakaway was reeled in, thanks to work by Lampre and Omega-Lotto, Matt Wilson helped keep Farrar in good position with 10km to go. Grand tour rookie Michael Kreder drove him until 2km to go.
“It was fantastic to win. I puked six times during the stage yesterday and I had no idea how I would be day,” Farrar said. “I was a bit lucky. It was a crazy sprint there with the tailwind, but I found the right wheels and it worked out.”
The victory was especially sweet for Farrar, who took a rare win against Cavendish when the pair has faced off head-to-head. The last time Farrar came out ahead of Cavendish was during the 2009 Tirreno-Adriatico.
Cavendish was also at a disadvantage, losing his lead-out man Bernhard Eisel to illness yesterday. Matthew Goss was given the task Wednesday, but he punctured with five kilometers to go and eventually finished last.
“I was on my own out there. I lost Goss to a puncture, so I started my sprint really early,” Cavendish said. “It was too early, with 500 meters to go. It was hard to hold the speed for that long.”
Cavendish crossed the line, after Farrar and Koldo Fernández, the Basque sprinter on Euskaltel-Euskadi, slipped past him.
The victory pulled Farrar into a tie for the points jersey. Igor Antón (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Farrar now both have 41 points.
Farrar’s not sure how long he will stay in the Vuelta. The next major goal is the world championships, set for two weeks after the Vuelta concludes in Melbourne, Australia.
Farrar hasn’t personally inspected the course, but from what he’s gleaned from talking with other riders who have seen it, he knows it’s ideal for his style of racing.
It’s always helps to win a big race. I am on good run of form here, with my win at Hamburg and second place at Plouay, and now the victory here,” Farrar said. “Of course, the worlds is a huge objective, but there’s still lots of racing here at this Vuelta. There are still some sprint stages to come, so there will be more opportunities to hopefully win some stages.”
The overall didn’t change, with Philippe Gilbert (Omega-Lotto) retaining his 10-seecond lead to Antón and Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha).
Thursday’s short but explosive stage features a climb over the Cat. 2 Cresta del Gallo about 20km the finish line in Murcia.
That might be too much for the likes of Cavendish and Farrar to make it over with the lead group, but it could be ideal for Thor Hushovd (Cervélo), another sprinter who has something to say in this Vuelta.
- 1. Tyler Farrar, Garmin-Transitions, in 5h 03′ 36”
- 2. Larrea Koldo FernÁndez De, Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 00:00
- 3. Mark Cavendish, HTC-Columbia, at 00:00
- 4. Matteo Tosatto, Quick Step, at 00:00
- 5. Alessandro Petacchi, Lampre-Farnese Vini, at 00:00
- 6. Sébastien Chavanel, Française des Jeux, at 00:00
- 7. Robert FÖrster, Milram, at 00:00
- 8. Denis Galimzyanov, Team Katusha, at 00:00
- 9. Theo Bos, Cervélo TestTeam, at 00:00
- 10. Greg Van Avermaet, Omega Pharma-Lotto, at 00:00
- 1. Philippe Gilbert, Omega Pharma-Lotto, in 19h 00′ 06”
- 2. Igor Anton, Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 10
- 3. Joaquin Rodriguez, Team Katusha, at 10
- 4. Vincenzo Nibali, Liquigas-Doimo, at 12
- 5. Peter Velits, HTC-Columbia, at 16
- 6. Tejay Van Garderen, HTC-Columbia, at 29
- 7. Xavier Tondo, Cervélo TestTeam, at 49
- 8. Frank Schleck, Team Saxo Bank, at 50
- 9. Ruben Plaza, Caisse D’Epargne, at 54
- 10. Ezequiel Mosquera, Xacobeo Galicia, at 55