After years of battling Mark Cavendish in high-speed, high-stakes sprints, American Tyler Farrar will ride in support of his new teammate at Dimension Data.
The 31-year-old from Wenatchee, Washington, will focus on his own personal success in the spring classics and the World Road Championships, but told CyclingTips he is otherwise content to find a place in the lead-out train for Cavendish, a 26-time Tour de France stage winner and former world champion.
Though he’s won stages at all three grand tours, Farrar has won only one Tour stage, back in 2011. His last WorldTour win came on stage 3 of the 2014 Tour of Beijing.
After eight years with the Garmin squad, Farrar signed with MTN-Qhubeka, now Dimension Data, in 2015. Cavendish joins the team this year after three years with the Belgian Etixx-QuickStep squad.
“It’s been a few years now since I was really consistently competitive at the top level in the sprints, and it makes a lot more sense for me at this point to slot into the train and be the best support I can for the team to win races,” Farrar said at the Santos Tour Down Under.
“Five or six years ago that would have been a hard pill for me to swallow, but times change. The reality of professional cycling is wins are what count, and the most important thing is the team winning. I’m on board with that, and I’m looking forward to being a part of it.”
Cavendish made his debut with Dimension Data at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race in Geelong, Victoria. He did not finish the demanding early season race. Farrar finished in 91st place.
Farrar began his second season with the African squad at the Tour Down Under where he raced alongside Cavendish’s chief pilot Mark Renshaw, who transferred to the team with Cavendish. Renshaw took a pair of second-place finishes at the Tour Down Under behind Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEdge), but did not come away with a victory.
Renshaw butted heads, literally, with Farrar’s former lieutenant Julian Dean at the 2010 Tour de France. However, in this new chapter, Renshaw and Farrar will work together in a sprint train that has yet to be fully determined.
“We’re going to have to mess with it a little bit and try some different positions to see how it fits best,” Farrar said. “I think it’s pretty proven at this point between Renshaw and Cav, they’ve got their thing, so there’s no reason to mess with that. So I imagine I’ll be slotting somewhere in front of that.”
Cavendish and Renshaw are a number of new international signings at the newly minted WorldTour squad that has a unique and strong involvement with the Qhubeka charity group. Farrar said rider movements haven’t significantly changed the ethos or dynamic of the outfit, however, it may impact the way the team races in 2016.
“Of course bringing a rider like Cav into the team, such a massive name, will change the dynamics of the tactics during the race, because when Cav is at the race there’s a lot of pressure on the team. He’s the top sprinter. But I think it’s a healthy progression for the team, and it’s a continuation of the team’s goals,” Farrar said.
“At the first training camp we got on really well. We’ve known each other as competitors for a decade now, so it’s not like I don’t know him at all. It’s always different as a teammate of course, but so far, so good.”
New alliance aside, Farrar and Cavendish will race as rivals at least once more during their respective careers, with both men targeting the October world road championship in Doha, Qatar.
Both men are slated to race the Tour of Qatar, February 8-12, a race Cavendish won in 2013.
“I’m really personally motivated for [road worlds],” Farrar said. “Realistically, it’s probably one of the last chances in my career I’m going to have of a world championships that suits my abilities. Looking at the courses for the years after this, they all look fairly hilly to me, so I’ll go 100% for those worlds and hope for the best.”