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By Andrew Hood
After a season of oh-so-close calls, Tyler Farrar finally broke into the winner’s circle Wednesday.
The 24-year-old Garmin-Chipotle sprinter blasted his way to his first victory on the 2008 season after a year littered with seconds and thirds, outkicking Anthony Ravard (Ag2r-La Mondiale) in the 166km opening stage from Celles-sur-Belles to Saint-Jean d’Angely of the Tour Poitou-Charentes in France.
Farrar also took the leader’s jersey in the five-stage, four-day race.
Farrar won two stages and the overall earlier this season at the non-UCI rated Tour of the Bahamas exhibition race, but the Poitou-Charentes is the real deal.
Garmin-Chipotle helped chased down a breakaway and then set up Farrar for a confidence-boosting win.
It comes just in time, as Farrar and teammate Steven Cozza will pull out after Thursday’s stage to race in the elite men’s road race in Italy for Sunday’s world road cycling championships.
Farrar has lodged no less than six top-threes in sprints this year, barely missing wins on both sides of the Atlantic with close calls in the tours of California, Georgia and Missouri in the United States and the Tour of Portugal in Europe.
The race continues Thursday with the 174.4km second stage from Saint-Jean d’Angely to Lacs de Haute-Charente.