By Andrew Hood
Things are coming together nicely for Tyler Farrar despite an early departure last week from Paris-Nice with a cold. The second-year pro is a key part of Cofidis’ 10-man classics unit and he’s looking forward to working for team captain Nick Nuyens.
“It was nice when Nick (Nuyens) won the first race of the season [Etoille de Bessèges in France] – so that’s good for the motivation for everyone,” Farrar told VeloNews. “He’s a great captain and he’s real easy to work for.”
So far in 2007, he’s been busy with nearly 20 days of racing in his legs with the meat of his spring classics program still in the offing.
“I was racing Tour Med’ when they told me to basically stop in the third stage because you’re going to the Tour of the Algarve,” Farrar said. “That was a weird race. Every day finished in a sprint, but if there had been one more climb in each stage, it would have blown apart the race. Every day we arrived at the finish like this [putting his thumb under this chin].”
For the big week on the cobbles, he’s on the short list for both Flanders and Roubaix and all but certain to start Ghent-Wevelgem. Roubaix looks more likely than Flanders, but it all depends on how he’s riding. If his form keeps coming up, he could well do all three.
A pair of injuries has helped his chances. Kevin De Weert broke his collarbone while Danish classics specialist Frank Hoy required emergency surgery after dropping a cutting knife on his foot while preparing a meal at home.
“I’d love to race Roubaix. I’ve been dreaming about that race since I was a kid,” he said. “Flanders would be great, too. The team is confident we can get some results in the big races.”
A worsening cold forced his early departure from Paris-Nice during the sixth stage. Farrar will return to action in this weekend’s stop at the French Cup at GP Cholet before heading into the Belgian classics.
“I was feeling a little bit tired. As the week got on, I got a cold and it wore me down,” said Farrar, who pulled out at the day’s feed zone. “I was pretty thrashed [Saturday] and I will rest up for my next race.”
Hincapie back on bike
George Hincapie continues on his road to recovery following his Tour of California crash that derailed his spring classics campaign.
The Discovery Channel rider reported on his personal web page he’s resumed training again after doctors removed stitches on his wrist. Hincapie broke his radial bone in his wrist when he crashed in the sixth stage in California. The Discovery Channel rider finished stage, but later was forced to pull out and undergo surgery.
“I got my stitches out last week and my wrist is healing as planned. The doctor gave me the okay to start riding outside again. The Computrainer is nice, but it’s great to be back out in the sun,” Hincapie wrote on his web page. “My wrist is still tender, but it’s healing. I’m being really careful to make sure everything stays on track. Congrats to my teammates for a fantastic Paris-Nice performance. It’s nice to see the boys riding well. I look forward to being back with them ASAP. Thanks for all the support.”
The injury forced Hincapie to forfeit his spring classics campaign. Hincapie told VeloNews he’s hoping to return to racing at the Tour de Georgia next month.
Holczer predicts team unity
Gerolsteiner team boss Hans-Michael Holczer said the ProTour teams will stick together in the power struggle between the UCI and the grand tours.
Holczer said the teams need to work as a unit to provide ballast to the bitter feud over the future over the ProTour between the UCI and the grand tour organizers, led by ASO.
“The teams will stay united in this struggle because the ProTour is worth fighting for,” Holczer told VeloNews. “The races have to understand that the ProTour has brought much-needed stability to the teams. We know we have the money to build a real team structure, not unlike five years ago when teams were thrown together and sometimes riders and directors never got paid.”
Holczer agreed that compromise is needed on both sides to break the logjam that’s threatening to divide the sport. He expressed optimism that the big tours, led by Tour de France organizer ASO, and the UCI will be able to hammer out a compromise.
“The bigger teams are better for the big tours, and they know that,” he continued. “There is more professionalism in the sport and we cannot move backwards on this point.”
Holczer pointed out that Gerolsteiner has a sponsorship deal through 2010, a pact made possible in part by the ProTour and the guarantee that the team will be part of the season’s biggest races.
ProTour tug-of-war continues
Alberto Contador might have the ProTour series lead following his dramatic victory in the finale at Paris-Nice, but you’d never know it.
Despite a last-minute truce earlier this month to avert a major split between the UCI and the grand tours, there still seems to be some tension smoldering beneath the veneer of the cease-fire.
On Sunday, there was no official jersey presentation on the Paris-Nice podium as part of the winner’s celebration along the Promenade des Anglais.
On Tuesday’s conclusion of Tirreno-Adriatico, Giro d’Italia director Angelo Zomegnan shot out an e-mail to journalists reminding where things stand, at least from his perspective.
“As you know and as was written in the provisional agreement of March 5, in article 6, RCS Sport races – like those affiliated to ASO and Unipublic – must not be associated with the ProTour concept or its logo; in other words with its calendar or classifications etc.,” Zomegnan wrote. “We therefore forbid you to associate the Tirreno-Adriatico with any ProTour initiative whatsoever.”
UCI officials agreed that no jersey presentation would be held at events organized by the grand tours, but insisted that the ProTour jersey will be worn during events so long as it doesn’t supercede the race leader’s jersey.
Petacchi optimistic for MSR
Alessandro Petacchi expressed quiet optimism ahead of this weekend’s Milan-San Remo despite not winning a stage in Tirreno-Adriatico. “AleJet” lost his position in Tuesday’s finale and was blanked in the weeklong “Race of the Two Seas.”
“There was a crash in front of me with 2km to go and I lost too many positions and it was too late to make a sprint,” he told the Italian wires. “It’s too bad I didn’t win a stage in this Tirreno-Adriatico, but I feel good and I hope to have some good luck Saturday.”
The Italian sprinter won the 2005 edition and finished second last year, but has since struggled to regain his dominance after cracking his kneecap in a spill in last year’s Giro d’Italia.
Nazon KO’d for MSR
French cyclist Jean-Patrick Nazon collided with a car in training and will not be competing in Saturday’s Milan-San Remo one-day classic, AFP reported.
Nazon, who won the first stage of last week’s Paris-Nice race, skidded on a puddle of oil during a training ride with Nicolas Roche around Antibes in the south of France.
He then collided with a car, but, after being taken to hospital, he was deemed to have bumps and bruises but nothing broken. The 30-year-old rider was ordered to have a week’s rest however.
Agence France Presse