Tyler Farrar looks after himself now. The American sprinter said that he must prove his worth in the sprints because until then his Garmin-Sharp team is giving its attention to stage racing.
"The team's priorities are in climbing and GC these days," Farrar told Cycling Weekly. "It's nice being on team focused on sprints, but I don't warrant that kind of focus until I can show consistency racing at the highest level."
Farrar won the Tour de France stage to Redon in 2011. Since then, wins have been harder to come by for the friendly red-headed rider from Washington. Even if he placed top five 24 times last year, it seems wins are all that matter.
"For variety of reasons I haven't been my best. 2012 was a disaster. 2013 wasn't bad, I was just missing that one to two per cent," Farrar added.
"I did win last year. I had an absurd number of top fives, but in sprinting it's all about wins."
Farrar now has to try to win with even less help. The team did not re-sign Alex Rasmussen, Martijn Maaskant or Robbie Hunter. He was even lucky to get a contract, which came late into 2013 and is good only for 12 months.
"The team was trying to decide how much it wanted to dedicate to sprinting," Farrar said.
"For anyone who makes living, pays bills, it means 12 months from now, unemployed. It's pressure but it's healthy pressure, it can even help you train harder, perform better. I'll use that stress in the right way."
'Back to the winning way'
Farrar arrived in Argentina from the USA a few days ago. He opens his season with the Tour de San Luis, which starts tomorrow. The race features three summit finishes and three sprint stages.
He will face Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and other sprinters. If he can prove himself, he said that the team would support him this season with lead-out help from David Millar, Ramunas Navardauskas, Steele Von Hoff and Koldo Fernández.
"I hope that this year I can convert those second places to wins," Farrar said. "Clearly, the big wins are better than little wins but wins are good period. We have three sprint chances here. The Tour of Dubai offers a fair bit of opportunity. I'll start and get back on to winning ways."
Farrar aims to win everywhere, from Argentina to the Giro d'Italia. Also in the classics, like Ghent-Wevelgem and Scheldeprijs.
"I feel good right now. I had a healthy second-half of 2013 and I'm hoping that that extra one to two per cent will be there for 2014."
Tour de San Luis 2014 preview
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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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