Garmin-Transitions scored a huge boost Sunday with Tyler Farrar’s victory in the second stage at the Giro d’Italia.
Not only did Farrar prove yet again he’s a world-caliber sprinter, it also confirmed the team’s commitment to building a stronger team around the 25-year-old’s growing confidence.
The Argyle train was on full view late in Sunday’s treacherous 209km run from Amsterdam to Utrecht, with Farrar finishing off the team’s work to set up their man.
“The team was fantastic. I couldn’t have asked for a better delivery to the line,” Farrar said. “We’ve said since the beginning of the season that we’re putting more effort into beefing up our lead-out train. (Chris) Sutton (Sky) tried to jump us in the last corner, but Jules (Julian Dean) did a great job to close down the gap and give me a clean run to the line.”
Sutton tried to derail the Garmin train by jumping early to hit the final, tricky right-hander with less than 300 meters to go, but experienced lead-out man Dean was able to set up Farrar for the final shot to the line.
“It’s awesome. The train was good. Everyone was there contributing, we were cool and calm. We’ve brought some new guys to the team, but we’ve just really started to get things together and get the feeling for each other, and it’s starting to show,” Dean told VeloNews. “It’s huge for Tyler’s confidence. We’re here to practice the lead-outs for the Tour de France, so to win like this today is fantastic.”
Garmin signed Murilo Fischer and Robbie Hunter to help bolster the team’s sprint train. Hunter skipped a planned Giro start due to a nagging Achilles tendon injury, but Fischer played a key role in Sunday’s win.
With Garmin taking control, other sprinters were forced to try to grab Farrar’s wheel. Sutton’s gambit didn’t pay off, and Farrar was able to fend off Matt Goss (HTC-Columbia) to celebrate the victory with his arms spread in celebration before he hit the tape.
“It’s one of the special (victories). Last year was a breakout year for me, so it feels good with the wins I’ve had this year to prove that I am at this same level this year,” Farrar said. “The sprints at the Giro were a big objective, so to win the first one is nice and it takes some pressure off for the rest of the race.”
Other big sprint names rounded out the top 10, with André Greipel (HTC-Columbia) fourth, Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre) fifth and Robbie McEwen (Katusha) seventh.
One name missing from the Giro is Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia), Farrar’s arch-rival, who is racing the AMGEN Tour of California instead. Farrar believes Garmin’s improved train will give him better chances of beating Cavendish when they clash in this summer’s Tour de France.
“I was close last year (to beating Cavendish). We’ve put a lot of effort in trying to build one of the strongest lead-outs in the world,” Farrar said. “This is a good sign for things to come in the Giro and the Tour and beyond.”
Farrar’s immediate future could include the pink jersey. With time bonuses, he clawed within one second of new race leader Cadel Evans (BMC).
Evans already said he wasn’t going to chase time bonuses on the road in Monday’s stage, opening the door for Farrar to try to take the jersey in the last of three stages in Holland and carry the maglia rosa to Italy.
“We’ll talk about it in the team meeting tonight,” Farrar said when asked by VeloNews if he will chase mid-stage time bonuses. “The jersey is one of the team’s goals. We also have the team time trial coming up, so we hope to get it.”