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An interview with Tyler Farrar, August 24, 2005
US champ riding high
After signing a two-year deal to ride for Cofidis next season and a win at the USPRO criterium championships, Tyler Farrar is riding high. Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes jumped on cloud nine, where Tyler is sitting right now, to join the young American for a chat.
August sure seems to be a good month for Tyler Farrar. Twelve months ago it brought a glittering run of form; the Health Net - Maxxis rider won the National Under 23 TT title, the Manhattan Beach Grand Prix and the National Under 23 criterium championships over a highly-productive five-day period.
This time round, Farrar won the Portland Grand Prix, placed second in the Manhattan Beach GP, signed a ProTour contract with Cofidis, and then finished off his domestic career with a real flourish when he won the USPRO Criterium Championship in Chicago.
The race was dominated by a dangerous three-man move containing Health Net-Maxxis' John Lieswyn, former winner Kirk O'Bee (Navigators Insurance) and Ben Jacques-Maynes (Kodak Gallery-Sierra Nevada.) It looked like the three would stay clear, but a last-gasp recapture by the main bunch paved the way for a big gallop and, with Farrar getting a top-drawer leadout by team-mate Greg Henderson, the 21-year-old managed to hold off Dave McCook (Jelly Belly-Pool Gel) for the win.
"It was great, it was a dream come true," said a clearly elated Farrar two days later. "To have my last race in the US for I don't know how long turn out that way, winning a US Pro championship...that's a pretty nice way to finish it out."
Farrar finished second in the USPRO champs last year and was determined to do things just right this time. "I just sat quiet all day and saved the legs for the end. When [John] Lieswyn got away in that group of three with [Kirk] O'Bee and [Ben] Jacques-Maynes, that move was looking pretty strong. I thought "wow, that's the race!" But it ended up coming back, so I just got myself where I needed to be, got a good leadout from the team, and that was that."
"The win is definitely up there as one of the bigger results of my career. That and the Tour de l'Avenir stage win...pretty big!"
Farrar went into the race on a high from his signing with Cofidis for two years. At the start of the season he told Cyclingnews that getting a contract with a ProTour team was his big goal. Past results plus European wins this year in the Trofee van Haspengouw, the Challenge de Hesbaye and stage 4 of the Ronde de l'Isard d'Ariege in France attracted the attention of several teams, including a rumoured approach by Discovery Channel. But it was the long-term interest shown in him by the French team which secured his decision.
"I talked to a few teams," he told Cyclingnews. "In the end, I weighed up my options and felt that for me, Cofidis was the best place to go."
"I have been talking to them on and off since last fall. They made contact after I won the stage at the Tour de l'Avenir last year and just kept in touch through the winter. I had a pretty good spring over in Europe, so they decided that they wanted to give me a shot."
Farrar consequently heads into the final races of the season - namely the Tour de l'Avenir and the world championships - relaxed about his future, but also highly motivated. So don't be surprised if this promising US hope gets another big result before 2005 is out.
Cyclingnews: First off, congratulations on your USPRO criterium championship victory at the weekend. Can I get your reaction to the win?
Tyler Farrar: It was great, it was a dream come true. To have my last race in the US for I don't know how long turn out that way, to win a USPRO Championship...that's a pretty nice way to finish it out.
CN: How did the race unfold for you?
TF: I just sat quiet all day and saved the legs for the end. When [John] Lieswyn got away in that group of three with [Kirk] O'Bee and [Ben] Jacques-Maynes, the move was looking pretty strong. I thought "wow, that's the race!" But it ended up coming back, so I just got myself where I needed to be, got a good leadout from the team, and that was that.
CN: How do you feel this compares to your other career victories?
TF: It is definitely up there as one of the bigger ones, along with the Tour de l'Avenir stage win. Pretty big!
CN: Your motivation must be very good now with this win, and your signing for Cofidis?
TF: It's really good, I have been on cloud nine. It came together really nicely, it's just been a really good week (laughs).
CN: How did that Cofidis deal come about?
TF: Well, I have been talking to them on and off since last fall. They made contact after I won the stage at the Tour de l'Avenir last year and just kept in touch through the winter. I had a pretty good spring over in Europe, so they decided that they wanted to give me a shot.
CN: There was talk that Discovery were looking at you. Were other teams interested?
TF: You know, I talked to a few people. I just kind of weighed up my options and felt that for me, Cofidis was the best place to go. Like I said, they have really shown an interest in me and checked on me throughout the winter, asking me how the preparations were going and other things. So that really made me feel good. They were looking towards me for the team, and I just feel it is the best match for me.
CN: Have you been given the information as to your likely race programme for next year?
TF: They said that they are going to give me a good programme for development, give me a few shots at ProTour races and do things like the French Cup. Hard pro races, but maybe not quite the biggest. I don't know the exact schedule yet but it should be pretty good.
CN: You told CN earlier this year that Stuart O'Grady is one of your big idols. Was that a factor in the decision?
TF: Ah, it's definitely cool. I have always looked up to Stuart O'Grady, since I started bike racing. So it will be really cool to be on the same team as him - that's kind of exciting.
CN: What kind of rider do you think you can be?
TF: Well, I am hoping to go over there next year and just do my job, whatever it's going to be. I hope I'm going to be there and help in the lead-outs for O'Grady, because I'm a sprinter. So hopefully I can be there to learn as much as I can for the first while, helping out wherever I can.
CN: What is your assessment of your 2005 season so far?
TF: I am pretty happy with the way the year has gone so far. I've had a rough year; breaking my collarbone twice, once before the season and once in April, so I spent most of that month sitting on the couch. But I won a couple of races in Belgium in March, the Trofee van Haspengouw and the Challenge de Hesbaye, finished second in the GP de Waregem, and then won a stage of the Ronde de l'Isard in May. I've also had a pretty good stretch racing over here in the US, so I am pretty happy with the way the year is going so far.
CN: You had named Waregem as one of your targets before the season....
TF: Yeah. It was super-close, it went down to the photo finish there. But I won those two races in Belgium and then the Ronde de l'Isard. I also won a pro race in the US last week, the Portland Grand Prix, so that was good.
CN: Have you looked at targets for the rest of the season?
TF: Yeah. I'm going to do the Tour de l'Avenir, the Tour de la Somme in France and then the world championships. I'm done after that.
CN: Given that the worlds course in Madrid is pretty flat, a bunch gallop seems quite likely...
TF: Yes, that's what I hear. I'm really excited - this will be my last year doing the Espoir race as I am going to Cofidis [ProTour riders must ride the Elite RR - Ed] and it's a good course for me. It's a one-day race so it is a bit of a lottery, but I'll do what I can and hope for the best.
CN: You're a good time trialist so I presume you'll also ride that?
TF: They haven't announced the US TT team yet, but I'll probably be giving that one a go.
CN: Before then, you've got that Tour de l'Avenir ride. You did well there last year, winning a stage, so I guess you'll be motivated for that?
TF: Yeah, I am very excited with that again this year. That is one of my big priorities so hopefully it goes well.
CN: Having a contract means you'll be going there without pressure...
TF: Yes. I've been on cloud nine since signing the deal - it's a dream come true for me...