By Andrew Hood
Tyler Farrar is racing his “home tour” this week in his adopted country of Belgium in his return to major European competition since crashing out of Ghent-Wevelgem in April.
The budding Cofidis classics rider sprinted to third in Thursday’s second stage at the Tour of Belgium and fourth in Wednesday’s first stage in a clear sign that he’s doing better than expected after his nasty fall on the notorious Kemmelberg cobblestones last month.
“After my crash, I went back to the U.S. to see a specialist and tests showed it wasn’t as bad as first that, so I was back on the bike after three weeks instead of missing two months,” Farrar told VeloNews. “The fitness is coming back. I am nowhere near 100 percent, but so far I’ve been pleasantly surprised.”
Discovery Channel and Slipstream/Chipotle are also racing in the five-day stage race.
Farrar, who turns 23 on Saturday, went back in the United States to recover after his horrendous crash on the Kemmelberg descent when two high-speed falls put a black mark on the mid-week classic.
Initially, Farrar thought he had cracked his left patella, but later diagnosis revealed the injuries weren’t as bad as initially feared. Doctors gave him the green light to resume training after three weeks and he returned to Europe earlier this month to compete at the Tour of Picardie (May 18-20).
“My morale went through the roof when I heard the news. It’s like my season started all over again. It’s nice to get back to work,” Farrar said. “Since Belgian has become my adopted home, this is kind of like my home tour.”
The Cofidis rider, who lives in Ghent, Belgium, during the racing season, described Thursday’s stage “like the “Tour of Flanders. Today we hit all the big climbs and yesterday was hard with the wind. It was full-gas all day and the average speed was 47kph.”
The second-year pro said he’ll likely race the GP Correios in Portugal (June 14-17) and perhaps the ProTour team time trial event June 24 before a break. His injury kept him out of what was expected to be his grand tour debut at the Giro d’Italia, so he’s hoping for a shot at the Vuelta a España later this season.
“I’m really hoping to get a crack at my first grand tour this season,” Farrar said. “I’m on the list for the Vuelta, but there are 14-15 guys on that list. It’s all just a matter of who’s in form in the weeks ahead of the race.”