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American Classics

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Tyler Farrar's victory yesterday in the Vattenfall Cyclassics Classic could use a little historical perspective. For all our country's impact on the Tour de France and the odd other stage race, American one-day wins are pretty hard to come by. Using the "major races" (Pro Tour, etc), here's a list:

  • Greg LeMond, 1983 World Championship
  • Greg LeMond, 1989 World Championship
  • Lance Armstrong, 1993 World Championship
  • Lance Armstrong, 1995 Clasica San Sebastian
  • Lance Armstrong, 1996 Fleche Wallonne
  • George Hincapie, 2001 Gent-Wevelgem
  • Tyler Hamilton, 2003 Liege-Bastogne-Liege
  • George Hincapie, 2005 GP Ouest-France
  • Tyler Farrar, 2009 Vattenfall Cyclassic

And that's all she wrote. LeMond rode and challenged in a lot of the classics, and came close to a ton of breakthrough wins: seconds in Lombardia (1982), MSR (1986), GP des Nations (1984) and Zuri-Metzgete (1990), third in Liege (1984), fourth in Paris-Roubaix (1985) and Het Volk (1985). Lance Armstrong was also a classics rider of note early on, with seconds in Zurich (1992), Liege (1994, 1996) and Amstel Gold (1999, 2001), before pioneering the Tour-Only focus and targeting only one or two Ardennes classics a year. Hincapie is the true American classics rider of the current generation, with a second at Paris Roubaix and six other top-tens; five top-tens (best: 3rd) at the Tour of Flanders; and five top-fives at G-W, including his win.

Farrar's win is unique in that it represents the first true sprinters' win by an American in a classic. Only Hincapie's two wins are not climbers' events, though both G-W and GP Ouest-France pose a real challenge to the pure sprinters, above that of Vattenfall. This is arguably a big deal in that it makes Farrar a player in Milano-Sanremo... assuming he can get to the line without Cavendish around. An MSR would probably be the biggest win Farrar could reasonably hope for at this stage of his career, given that no American has won a Monument except for Tyler Hamilton, whose career ended rather regrettably and makes it hard for us to get excited about that LBL win. Paris-Tours is also within Farrar's skillset, and with a little seasoning maybe he can get to the finish in Gent-Wevelgem or GP Ouest-France someday. OK, that last one may be a stretch... more on that lovely race later this week.

Anyhow, congratulations to the Wenatchee Wonder, Tyler Farrar! Update: Here's the last several km of video, from Sporza:

Vattenfall Cyclassics 2009 - Final kilometers, crash, sprint (via worldcyclingchannel1)