Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervélo)
Bar none the best American-born sprinter of his generation, Farrar enters the 2011 Tour as the man most likely to challenge the recent dominance of Brit Mark Cavendish (11 stage wins in the last two Tours). Already the native of Washington has grand tour stage triumphs at the Vuelta and Giro, but Farrar has yet to break through at the big show in France.
This season he’s shown continued improvement, taking stage 2 of Tirreno-Adriatico and slotting third at the Belgian semi-classic Ghent Wevelgem. And just a week ago, he showed the form is still on the up, snagging a win at the Ster ZLM Tour in Holland. On a down note, Farrar exited the Giro d’Italia early this year, following the tragic death of close friend Wouter Weylandt.
Like Cavendish, Farrar will have a strong team behind him, led by reigning world champion (and former Tour green jersey winner) Thor Hushovd. It might seem odd that Hushovd deferring to his less decorated teammate, but the reality is that Farrar has a much better chance of knocking of Cavendish in the drag races to the line.
Farrar could also be a player in the green points jersey chase, but a new-for-2011 rule change places greater emphasis on stage wins and less on intermediate bonus sprints, meaning the path to green will almost certainly go through Cavendish.