American Tyler Farrar blasted past Tom Boonen at the end of the Scheldeprijs race in Belgium today. The win happened just up the Schelde river that he trains on regularly from his base in Ghent.
The win comes one week after his first season win in The Three Days of De Panne, where he won the final morning stage before Garmin-Transitions team-mate David Millar won the overall classification. It is also only three days after he won the sprint for fifth at the Tour of Flanders.
“Winning a field sprint is always good for your confidence, but a top five in the Tour of Flanders was a bit of a surprise, a little more than I expected. It is my favourite race in the whole world,” he told Cycling Weekly.
“As a sprinter I think it is normal you get on a roll and your confidence gets higher and higher.”
Farrar’s confidence is high enough that he may decide to race full power to the velodrome in Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix. Like at the Tour of Flanders, Garmin’s team leaders will be Martijn Maaskant and Johan Van Summeren, but like at the Tour of Flanders he might end up being the team’s best option.
“Out of all the classics, the one that always brings the biggest surprise is Roubaix. Roubaix can be a very random race and there is no reason why he can’t win Roubaix on Sunday,” said Farrar’s lead-out man for today, Julian Dean.
Dean compared Farrar to Belgian Champion and two-time Roubaix winner, Boonen.
“Especially when you see the ride like he did on Sunday. I think he can be a man for the classics as well as winning sprints in the big tours, like the Tour de France. He has more capacity than a lot of the speciality sprinters.”
“I don’t ever try to say I am like him [Boonen] or like someone else. I worry about doing the best I can,” Farrar added.
“This was the first time I was able to focus on the classics, with a little more power training and climbing, and less sprint training. I think it is paying off.”
Millar will also join the team for Roubaix after spending the week at home in Girona. They will make for a strong team, with Van Summeren, fifth last year, and Maaskant, fourth in 2008.
“I still say that they are the leaders going into the race,” Farrar continued. “They have both been in the top five and I have only done it once. I finished 20 minutes behind.”
Garmin put its confidence behind the 25-year-old from Washington state in today’s 205-kilometre race that departed in Antwerp. It battled in the closing kilometres with HTC-Columbia for André Greipel and Sky with Greg Henderson.
Sky aimed for a sprint win after playing its cards in the all-day escape with Australian Matt Hayman. He was the last to be brought back in to the fold of the sprinters’ teams at kilometre 194.
“It was a dangerous escape and we had to commit the team and ride a little harder than we had hoped,” explained Farrar. “We used the guys just to pull the break back instead of saving them for the last kilometres.”
Robbie McEwen (Katusha) finished second, while Robert Förster (Milram) was third. With HTC’s Mark Cavendish racing the Tour of California in May, the American from Ghent could be king of the last kilometres at the Giro d’Italia.
1. T Farrar (USA) Garmin Transitions 205.4km in 4-28:42 hrs
2. R McEwen (AUS) Katusha
3. R Forster (GER) Milram
4. G Henderson (NZL) Team Sky
5. W Weylandt (BEL) Quick Step
6. E Rossi (ITA) Ceramica Flaminia
7. K Boeckmans (BEL) Topsport Vlaanderen
8. J Casper (FRA) Saur Sojasun
9. L Mondory (FRA) Ag2r La Mondiale
10. A Kristoff (NOR) BMC all same time