VIGO, Spain (VN) — Tyler Farrar may burn his fair, freckled skin in the Spanish sun, but he loves the Vuelta a España. This weekend in the country’s northwest, he began the grand tour for the fifth time with an eye on helping teammates Kristian Sbaragli and Nathan Haas, but also on the next two years with team Dimension Data.
The 32-year-old from Washington, whose hair keeps getting longer and longer with his years of experience, will guide Sbaragli through the sprints and will set up Haas to attack in the medium-mountain stages. The team also brings a handful of climbers for the mountainous route.
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“I certainly would not call this a sprinter-friendly Vuelta this year,” Farrar said. “There will be opportunities but certainly not nine field sprints, and I think that’s what scared away some of the sprinters.
“I love the Vuelta, it’s the favorite of my three grand tours. Each grand tour has its own character and is special in its own way. There’s this nice kind of laid-back atmosphere here. The Tour de France is so stressful and the Giro d’Italia is just kind of insane, where the Vuelta has a nice feel as a rider.”
And after spending time in Washington in July watching his team win five stages in the Tour de France, Farrar is more motivated.
“I would wake up every morning in America to check the results and see, ‘Wow, we won!’ and ‘Wow, we won again.’ It fuels the whole team on. When your team performs like that, it has a way of making everybody rise to the occasion and moves the bar.”
Farrar changed his plans over the last few years. Instead of hunting for sprint wins, he helps his teammates do so and powers leaders like Edvald Boasson Hagen in the classics. This spring, he helped Mark Cavendish and Boasson Hagen win at the Tour of Qatar and followed Boasson Hagen on through the cobbled classics he loves so much.
The plan is the same for the next two years. Whispers among the peloton say Farrar has a new contact with the South African-based WorldTour team, but the squad would not confirm it. He joined Dimension Data for 2015 after several years with the Garmin/Slipstream franchise.
“My role is fairly defined as a team now, the classics are my No. 1 priority every year supporting Edvald. The tricky thing is that for the Tour de France, we have a limited number of positions and guys that need to go for other objectives,” Farrar said.
“I really enjoy transitioning into this role since I came to the team. At this point in my career, I’ve been around a lot and I have a lot of experience. I’m more valuable doing that than being out there in chasing for results. We have some of the best riders in the world here in this team and I enjoy helping them.
“Edvald got a little sick in Milano-Sanremo and then it that just derailed him, but he still got fifth in Paris-Roubaix so you can’t say that he wasn’t far off in the classics. He definitely has his mojo back these last years. I think a big classics victory is still in the future for sure.”