By Andrew Hood
It’s official: Tyler Farrar will miss this year’s northern classics.
The bad news was confirmed by doctors Sunday, who diagnosed an acromioclavicular (AC) separation in Farrar’s right shoulder resulting from his crash in the 100th Milan-San Remo.
“It’s not severe enough to require surgery, nothing is broken,” Farrar told VeloNews by telephone. “It’s not that bad of an injury, it’s just bad enough that you couldn’t race a cobblestone classic. It’s just an inconvenient timing.”
Farrar crashed in the first half of Milan-San Remo and traveled back to his home base in Belgium on Saturday evening to have doctors there fully diagnose the seriousness of his injury.
The Garmin-Slipstream sprinter said he’s hoping to return to racing in about six weeks, which means he’ll be gritting his teeth in early April as he watches his favorite races of the year from his couch.
The setback comes just as Farrar was hitting his stride in the sprints. Garmin sport director Matt White said Farrar “is in the best form of his life” and said Farrar was the team leader for Ghent-Wevelgem.
At Tirreno-Adriatico, Farrar delivered a stunning victory in the third stage when he passed Mark Cavendish (Columbia-Highroad) in full flight, one of the few riders to have done that against the British ace.
That breakthrough victory will help Farrar maintain his optimism as he lets his shoulder heel.
VeloNews caught up with Farrar on Monday evening by telephone from his apartment in Ghent, Belgium. Here are excerpts from the interview:
VeloNews: How are doing now?
Tyler Farrar: Just hanging out and doing the recovery thing.
VN: Tell us how the crash occurred?
TF: We were just coming into the first feed zone. I was on one side of the peloton and everyone moved over and I got bumped off the road. I got pushed into one of those Italian rain gutters. They’re concrete and I dropped in about half-meter and just dumped it. There was a wall on one side and fell back pretty hard onto the road. We hadn’t quite started climbing Turchino yet, so we were still moving along pretty well. Fast enough that you didn’t want to fall.
VN: What was going through your mind when you hit the deck?
TF: After that first moment of shock, it doesn’t hurt at first, then I realized something is wrong with my shoulder. You just assume you have broken your collarbone. I’ve discovered a separated shoulder feels the same way. I knew something was wrong right away. Whatever it was, I wasn’t going to get it treated in Italy. I got in a team car and drove back to the team and flew home to Belgium that night. I went to the hospital and had scans back in Ghent.
VN: Why did you decide to go back to Belgium to have it treated?
TF: This is where I live, so it just makes life a lot easier. We knew it wasn’t acute enough that waiting overnight wasn’t going to change anything. I just wanted to do it where I am more comfortable. I had to grit my teeth and get home on the flight. It hurt like hell when I did it, but now it’s not bothering me that much.
VN: There’s no way of knowing what might have happened, but what did you expect from Milan-San Remo?
TF: We were riding for Julian Dean all day from there start. There was a chance for me to get in there and see how it played out. I wanted to see if I could make it over the climbs or not, so that’s kind of a bummer.
VN: So it’s obvious that this means no classics?
TF: There’s really no chance for the classics. It’s disappointing, because that was one of my big goals in the first part of the season. I’ve worked hard on my sprint and the form is right where I wanted it to be. Sometimes you have to reassess things and come up with a new plan.
VN: You’re a rider who wants to do well in the classics, what were your expectations this year?
TF: Last year, I did all the classics, including Flanders and Roubaix. Last year, I was just working for Martijn and Bäckstedt. It was nice to go last year and finish the race and get the experience. It was really good and it would be nice to take another crack at it this year.
VN: How do you deal with it psychologically?
TF: It’s a disappointment. You just have to accept it and reassess things and come up with new goals. Now I know I cannot try to meet the goals for the classics, so now I need to come up with something new.
VN: Have you had a chance to talk things over with Garmin management about a new plan?
TF: We’ve talked a little bit. We haven’t completely nailed down what it will be right now. Part of it depends on how my recovery is going. Right now, we’re trying to start back at the Tour of Romandie. It just depends on how the shoulder is doing.
VN: Looking back at Tirreno, you had a great week and became one of the few riders to ever pass Cavendish in full sprint to beat him, what do you take out of that experience?
TF: It’s great for my confidence. It’s one thing to think you could do it, but something else to do it. I knew I put in a lot of work in my sprint over the winter in training. I was feeling strong and fast. I knew the potential for big results was there. It was just nice to carry through with it. It was a top field, there weren’t too many guys missing. That just makes it nicer. It makes it count for that much more. You cannot say that so and so wasn’t there. I hope I will get some more opportunities to get another crack at it.