SAN BENNEDETTO DEL TRONTO, Italy (VN) – Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Barracuda) is hoping things “will click” in the coming weeks as the Belgian classic seasons looms.
America’s top sprinter has been close to victory this year, but has been unable to break into the win column so far in 2012. He had some close calls in a tough Tirreno-Adriatico and is hoping the hard week of racing will bode well for the upcoming classics campaign.
He admits that Milan-San Remo is not his top priority even though it’s often called the “sprinter’s classic.” Farrar has never made it over the Cipressa and Poggio to ride down Via Roma to contend for victory in a sprint.
With Robbie Hunter taking over for Julian Dean as he his final lead-out man, Farrar says the new sprint train is functioning well. He says all he needs to do is to finish off the job.
VeloNews.com caught up with Farrar on the final day of Tirreno to gauge his sensations coming into the classics season; here’s what he had to say:
VN.com: How was Tirreno-Adriatico for you this week?
TF: It was quite a hard week. It hasn’t been the easiest Tirreno, so hopefully it will do my form some good going into the classics. All the lead-up work is done, so from here on out, it’s all the biggest races and hopefully I can get some results.
VN: You’ve had quite a few race days already, but no wins; is it a question of just missing a little luck?
TF: I don’t think my form has been bad. It’s been a bit frustrating. It’s not like I haven’t been there in the mix. Other than winning the team time trial in Qatar, I don’t have any victories, which is definitely frustrating. Hopefully, things are going to click in the next few weeks.
VN: How do you deal with that? You’ve become accustomed to winning in the biggest races …
TF: Of course, it’s always nice for the confidence to get some wins. I’ve done the preparation that I planned to do. I have good sensations, I just hope it will come around between now and Roubaix.
VN: After losing Julian Dean as your lead-out man, how has it been working out with the new train?
TF: They’ve been going really good. The lead-outs they did this week are really good. Robbie (Hunter) is flying right now. We have a really strong train. It’s up to me to do a bit better in the sprints themselves and finish off the deal. Hunter’s been great, so far in Qatar and Oman, and here. I think the recipe is really good. It’s up to me now to step up a little for the final 200m.
VN: Up next is Milan-San Remo, the ‘sprinter’s classic,’ but hardly easy, what are you expectations?
TF: I’ve never made it to the finish in San Remo in the front group. Who knows, maybe this will be the year. Basically, we have Heinrich (Haussler) he’s proven at San Remo. He’s been second there. I am sure he will be our No. 1 rider and we’ll see how the race unfolds with me. I would love to make it, but the question for me is to get over the Cipressa and the Poggio. That’s the first step.
VN: How does Marnie climb change the race?
TF: It’s hard. I think it’s changed the dynamic of the race quite a bit. Before, you rolled over the Turchino, it wasn’t that hard, then you had a really strong stretch until the ‘capos’ when you were just cruising on the coast. You hit the Marnie after 200km, that’s a nasty climb. I think it takes a little bit out of the sprinter’s legs.
VN: You’re more tailored for the northern classics, but is San Remo a special race for you?
TF: Oh yeah, it’s one of the monuments. Of course, everyone’s motivated. I’d love to do well there. It’s also good for the Belgian classics just to have 300km in your legs like that. A week later, when you’re at Gent-Wevelgem, when it’s 230km, it doesn’t seem so bad.
VN: Who have you seen this week who looks strong for San Remo?
TF: Sagan. I think he’s the favorite, just looking at the way he’s riding here this week. He climbs with the front group most days and then he’s right in the mix in the field sprints as well. He’s been quite impressive.
VN: What are the top targets for you in the Belgian classics?
TF: I’ll ride everything except for Harelbeke. There are one-day races, so you can target each one and come in fresh. Personally, Gent-Wevelgem means a lot to me. Scheldeprijs as well. I will ride them all and help support the team at Flanders and Roubaix to try to put someone on the podium.
VN: What’s the buzz inside the Garmin bus going into the classics?
TF: I think it’s good. With Sep (Vanmarcke) winning the Omloop a couple of weeks ago, that was a really good morale boost. That got our classics campaign off to the right start. Everyone got through Paris-Nice fairly healthy. We lost Ramunas to a broken collarbone a few days ago, which is a pretty big bummer. Other than that, everyone else got through this week healthy and intact. Hopefully, that’s a good sign for the big races to come.
VN: Garmin always seems to pop a nice surprise in the classics, and a huge win last year at Roubaix, one more time?
TF: Hopefully we can do something good. We have a very strong team, with a lot of guys who are capable of big results in the spring classics. I hope we can do it.
VN: Do you still dream someday of winning a race like Roubaix or Flanders?
TF: Of course, you always dream. Realistically, with the new Flanders course, it’s quite a bit harder. On the older course, I’ve had some good results. I don’t see that happening, at least at this point of my career, on the new course. It’s really difficult. We’ll see. Maybe I can do a good Roubaix and help Summi (Johan Vansummeren) do a repeat.