no one line

Why I Accidentally Like Tyler Farrar
July 15, 2010, 8:55 pm
Filed under: pro crap, sprints, tactics, Tour de France

Last year, I was surprised by people who thought that Tyler Farrar was the next sprint sensation. He seemed to me to be Mister Fifth Place, Mister Always-The-Bridesmaid, a sprint contender but not a sprint dominator. Destined to play second fiddle.

Even when he won Scheldeprijs this spring, I shrugged. It’s just Scheldeprijs. People were tuning up for Roubaix. Then he came in 5th place at the Ronde, and suddenly, “Mister Fifth Place” seemed a little bit more impressive.

What turned me into a Farrar fan was the drama surrounding Stage 11 of the Tour de France this year. Mark Cavendish’s leadout man, Mark Renshaw, has been doing a pretty impressive job of putting Cav at the right spot to win stages. On Stage 11, this involved headbutting Farrar’s leadout man Julian Dean 3 times and then, after Cav launched, “closing the door” on Farrar by drifting over a lane on the road so that Farrar couldn’t pass. Farrar had to sit up, pause, and wait to sprint – he still got 3rd. Renshaw was disqualified – not from the stage, not relegated due to his sprint, but booted from the whole Tour. A bummer: I like watching him in action.

What got me was Farrar’s immediate reaction – still on the bike, between the finish line and the team bus. He is mature, articulate, and surprisingly even-keeled. He honors his opponents – “Cav can win if they ride a clean sprint” – and criticizes them without lambasting them. Without being a petulant hothead about it.

Basically, he’s not an arse.

With Renshaw sent packing, I think the likelihood of continued Cavendish Sprint Dominance is diminished. Farrar’s looking fast – he took 3rd on Stage 11 when he was put into the barriers and had to stop his sprint and re-accelerate. I think we might see him win a stage. It would be nice to see. And it would be nice comeuppance after a sprint that has sprinting heads of state in disagreement.

5 Comments so far
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he’s also riding like that with a broken wrist and a broken team.

Comment by audra

Farrar seems to be a genuine nice guy. Even if he had had a clean run, it didn’t look like he could have caught Cav anyway – he was starting from too far back – but he could certainly have pipped Petacchi for second.

The cynic in me says the only reason Renshaw was disqualified was because the French are bored with Cav dominating the sprints over the past three Tours and wanted to level the playing field. If it had been Dean rather than Renshaw, I suspect no one would have batted an eyelid and just said “that’s just sprinting for you”.

If you’re interested, here is my review of the stage:

Comment by Tim

Tim, thanks for the comment.

In your post you mention the Renshaw DQ in the context of the Barredo/Costa fireworks. I think the salient difference here is that Barredo and Costa weren’t going 65kph in front of 180 other racers.

Comment by nooneline

I agree with you, and noted that the commissaires would say (rightly) that there is a difference between a post-race infringement and a racing-speed one. From my perspective, the point is that Barredo got a 400 Franc fine for trying to seriously hurt Costa, whereas Renshaw got kicked out of the race for doing something which might have hurt others. I’m not saying they should have received the same punishment at all – what Renshaw did was reckless in the extreme – but I do think one was overcooked, while the other was barely a slap on the wrist.

Before you know it, they’ll ordering the sprinters to race in lanes, or to indicate and check their mirrors before they pull out … 😉

Comment by Tim

I like the way you fell into fanhood — just the way I do.

I know only a little about racing, but watching the replays from various angles, I can’t see anything wrong with what Renshaw did. Booting him feels like an extreme and illogical reaction — oh, wait, we’re talking about French racing officials. Sorry — it’s perfectly normal.

Comment by velosopher

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