Tyler Farrar was forced to withdraw from the Giro d'Italia on Friday after crashing heavily during the hilly stage to Porto Sant'Elpidio.
A trip to hospital confirmed that the American from Garmin-Barracuda had not broken any bones, but several deep lacerations needed to be attended to, including a punctured blood vessel on the back of his left hand.
Though Farrar's Garmin-Barracuda team has enjoyed its time in the pink jersey thanks to a win in the team time trial, Farrar had been off the pace needed to win in the bunch sprints.
The last time Farrar raised his arms in victory was on stage three of last year's Tour de France in Redon. More than ten months ago.
The first five stages of this year's Giro d'Italia weren't encouraging, and the sixth stage compounded the American's disappointment.
"He's probably one of the nicest guys I've ever met, but for a sprinter that doesn't bode so well!" Garmin's sports director, Allan Peiper told Cycling Weekly. "Usually you have to be a half a freak to be a good sprinter, or have some sort of chip on your shoulder. But he's just a really great guy."
Farrar built his early season to be ready for the cobbled classics. His next goals are a stage win in the Giro d'Italia and in the Tour de France. Besides a second place in Scheldeprijs, the classics didn't go well. At the Giro, his best place was third on the stage to Horsens in Denmark.
Peiper looked over the hills of Le Marche and continued talking. He said, "One thing that does impress me about Ty, he's always there. He's always in position, from Qatar [through] all the races he's ridden until the Giro, he's always between second and fourth. He hasn't cracked a win yet, but he's consistently placed and makes perfect position, but it's just getting that last piece right. That may come down to speed, I don't know."
Farrar receives treatment at the roadside
A crash yesterday in Fano held back Farrar, who wasn't able to re-join the pack. He lost his chance to win and to take the leader's pink jersey from team-mate Ramunas Navardauskas with the help of the time bonuses. The close calls must play on his mind, but he's convinced he has the legs.
"I think so. Ummm. I've trained hard coming here. I hope. I hope I do," he told Cycling Weekly. He called yesterday "disappointing." Adding, "I wasn't in the right place, didn't have the legs. It was just an off day, really."
Peiper is a very friendly Aussie and popular among his riders. He's optimistic for Farrar and believes his chance will come on Monday, Montecatini Terme on Wednesday or in the Tour de France in July. "He just needs a good run at the finish line, a good opening and to be able to start at the right moment," said Peiper. "Then, he'd have a good shot at the stage. At the moment, the others look like they're a little bit faster."
"You know... Just because you have one bad day doesn't mean you don't have form," Farrar added. "I'm trusting the training I did here will be enough."
NB: This story was amended after Farrar pulled out of the race mid-stage.
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Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.
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