COPENHAGEN (VN) —Tyler Farrar walked into the U.S. team tent after finishing 10th in the world championships with a long look on his face.
“Not so happy,” was his first reaction when queried about his performance in Sunday’s 260km world championship race.
Farrar found himself stuck in bad position as the final sprint ramped up with 250m to go and couldn’t challenge for the rainbow jersey. As archrival Mark Cavendish blasted to victory, Farrar crossed the line 10th.
“It’s a field sprint for a world championships, it’s going to be chaotic. I just didn’t ride it as well as I could have,” Farrar told VeloNews. “Taylor (Phinney) moved me up with 2.5km to go, I was trying to find the wheels on my own.
“I got stuck in the middle a little bit. I was behind (Edvald) Boasson Hagen, I was on the wrong side, then I had to come around him and try to re-accelerate. You cannot recover, you cannot do that on a sprint like that.”
Just arriving in Copenhagen in condition to challenge in the final sprint was a victory of sorts for Farrar, who crashed hard in stage 7 at the Vuelta a España. Luckily, he didn’t break any bones in that crash on August 26 and was able to rebuild for Copenhagen.
After a week’s rest, Farrar resumed training from his European base in Ghent, Belgium, and came to Copenhagen cautiously optimistic.
“I felt really good and I think I was capable of more today,” he continued. “At the same time, it wasn’t ideal prep and at least I am happy with what I did considering what I went through the last month.”
Farrar said he was satisfied with the support from a young elite men’s team that brought him to the line to contest for the rainbow jersey.
Ben King rode at the front in the middle part of the course and Taylor Phinney helped position Farrar with less than 3km to go and rode to 24th in his elite world’s debut.
“The guys everything they could to try to help me out, pitching in to control the race. We did what we could. I would have liked more, but you can’t have it all,” Farrar said. “I was motivated for this worlds. As a sprinter, I don’t know how many more opportunities I will have, hopefully one or two more.”
A few of the Americans were caught up behind the crash that split the main pack with just under six laps to go. Farrar was not among them, but race announcers on the ground in Copenhagen kept saying that he was caught back in the same group as Thor Hushovd and Tony Martin.
Andrew Talansky was involved in the fall and exited his elite world’s debut earlier than he would have liked, pulling out with cuts and scrapes to his elbows, knees and chin.
“It was a fairly large crash. I got caught behind a couple of guys who went down and there were a couple of guys who were slow to react who pile into you from behind,” Talansky told VeloNews.
“I was three-four minutes on the ground. In a stage race, there’s time to regroup and come through the cars, but when the group is going 60kph, there’s no way to come back.”
Newly crowned world champion Mark Cavendish couldn’t help but take a dig at the U.S. team, saying they didn’t do their fair share of the workload to control the day’s breakaway attempts.
“We (thought) the USA would ride, but they didn’t really ride,” Cavendish said. “Maybe they didn’t have faith in Tyler, I don’t know, but they didn’t really ride that hard.”
Nevertheless, the U.S. squad was squarely behind Farrar and rode with the tactic of bringing him into the final sprint with the front group. Farrar could have used a late-race pilot to help him in the final kilometer, but riders like King, Tim Duggan, Matthew Busche and Jeff Louder rode hard in the early part of the race to protect Farrar’s flanks.
“The Brits had control of the race, and the Germans were riding well, so my job was to try to cover the moves in the first 50km. I pulled as long as I could,” said King, racing in his first elite men’s worlds as well. “We got a top-10. That’s a good result for us and I am happy that I went the full distance.”
Fellow American Brent Bookwalter said the presence of Farrar on the team gave everyone else more motivation to ride hard.
Bookwalter returned to Europe after racing in Utah, Colorado and Canada because he wanted to support Farrar take a shot at the world’s podium.
“It’s nice to have guys who are capable of doing a good result, that doesn’t happen every day for the U.S. in the worlds,” Bookwalter told VeloNews. “A lot of us here on this team have been together a long time. We came up through the U23 ranks together, so It makes it easier to come back to Europe when you have a legitimate contender to ride for like Farrar.”
The U.S. team leaves the worlds without winning any medals in time trial and road race competition across junior, U23, women’s and men’s racing.
Ten nations head home with medals, led by Great Britain with six medals and Germany with five.