LIMOUX, France (VN) — Tyler Farrar is riding pressure-free going into the third week of the Tour de France. Garmin-Cervélo’s American sprinter said Sunday that he has been able to enjoy more of the race after his stage-3 win in Redon and hoped that world champion teammate Thor Hushovd would return to the team in 2012.
“You’re able to just sit back and enjoy it a bit more,” Farrar told VeloNews before the start of stage 15. “Of course I’m still focused on my stages, but that extra little bit of pressure is off and I can just see the good parts of the race that I miss sometimes when I’m focused on a result.”
Sunday’s mostly flat 193km turn along the Mediterranean to Montpellier is one of those stages. Farrar is the best hope for Garmin, which enters the day with three stage wins after Hushovd’s improbable triumph in the Pyrénées Thursday.
The Norwegian has featured as a key component in Farrar’s leadout, perfectly positioning the Washington native and his final helper, Julian Dean, in a technical run-in when they won in Redon in western France on July 4.
“Thor’s incredible. He’s flying right now and he’s certainly doing the world champion’s jersey proud this month,” said Farrar. Having the world champion in his leadout is “just kind of surreal,” he added. “It’s not something you see very often and it means a lot. It means that the team is really behind me and that’s a really good feeling.”
Hushovd joined Garmin in the offseason as part of the merger that brought bike sponsor Cervélo and a number of Cervélo TestTeam riders to the American squad after that team folded. He has been reported to be in talks with a number of French squads, as well as BMC Racing, for a 2012 contract. Before the Tour, Farrar worked with Hushovd, a top sprinter turned all-rounder, in March’s Tirreno-Adriatico where he won a stage, as well as the spring classics.
Farrar said he hoped to team up with the Norwegian again next year.
“He and I have worked really well together, so I would be happy to,” said Farrar.
First the tandem will take to the Mediterranean for the last bunch sprint before the finale on the Champs-Élysées in a week’s time. The likely sprint comes a day after Farrar and the fast finishers struggled to make the narrow time cut to Plateau de Beille on the final stage of the Pyrénées.
Green jersey Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) suffered a mishap (teammate Bernhard Eisel called it not a crash so much as dancing along the guardrail) on a descent midway through the stage and Eisel, Danny Pate and Lars Bak worked hard to bring the Tour’s top sprinter back, finishing nine seconds behind the gruppetto.
While HTC’s misfortune may play to Garmin’s favor Sunday, Farrar said a day like Saturday affects all the sprinters.
“It’s hard, but it wears on everybody,” he said. “That’s the thing — the sprinters who can get through the mountains better than the others starts to matter at the end.”
With two tight roundabouts and a 120-degree right-hand corner 4km from the finish, Farrar said his squad would look to take control of the peloton for the run-in to Montpellier. If he can hit the wind first in the finale, Farrar was confident he could land his third stage win of the Tour, making him a seven-time grand-tour stage winner.
“There’s not so many opportunities in this Tour for pure sprinters like me, so we’ve got to take them where we can get them,” said Farrar. “For me personally, I need to sprint from the front to win.”