I took advantage of a media opportunity yesterday provided by Versus to ask Tyler Farrar a few questions about his preparation for the Tour de France. You can find the whole thing via Cosmo's fanpost, but here are a few salient points from our chat:
PdC: Tyler, chasing the green jersey and chasing sprint wins are different goals and each require quite a bit of effort. Can you afford to do both at the same time, or do you think more in terms of maximizing your effort toward one goal and see what happens with the other?
[Answers on the flip...]
TF: You know, going into the race I'm not putting a ton of pressure on myself for the green jersey, I think my first objective is to try and win a stage. But I think to a certain extent they go hand in hand. If you want to be good in the green jersey competition you have to be right there for the stage win pretty much every day that comes to a sprint, which I'll be trying to do if I'm gonna win a stage. So, for the first half of the race we'll take it day by day and target individual stages. If we get ten days, two weeks through the race and I'm there in the hunt, then of course we'll start really considering chasing more intermediate sprints and things like that. For the moment, going into it, first I just want to worry about going after a stage.
PdC: There was a lot of talk in the opening stages of the Giro d'Italia about the nature of the roads in the Netherlands. Is there any chance that the nerves that affected the race then will be any calmer now with riders just having been there?
TF: I would say I highly doubt it. Given the way the race played out in the Giro if anything I'd say people will be even more nervous. I mean, it was carnage those first few days in the Netherlands. I think you're going to see even more of guys really stressed, trying to ride the front to stay out of trouble, but that's what creates the stress is everyone trying to ride the front at once. But that's how the bike race goes, and it's up to the riders to keep things safe on those roads. We know that the road furniture is there and it's just a matter of keeping a heads-up for it.
PdC: We had a chance to talk last offseason about the changes in your leadout train with the hiring of Robbie Hunter and Johan Van Summeren, and obviously Julian Dean already there, and you were hopeful that it would make a big difference. Can you give me an update on how those changes are working out with the benefit of a few months' hindsight?
TF: Yeah, basing it off the way the Giro went I'd say things are pretty much on track. We kind of nailed it those days when we went for the leadout. There wasn't a whole lot of sprint opportunities in the Giro this year, but the ones that were there we capitalized on. I'm really happy with how things are going right now and everyone's really clicking, so I'm feeling quite optimistic going into the next few weeks.
That was about it. Farrar certainly sorts out his approach -- not too different from what you'd expect of a guy in his second Tour who didn't really mount a green jersey challenge last time and was still in search of a stage win. He sounds quite confident, though that's nothing new. The call was myself and a few other names I didn't recognize, asking questions of Phil & Paul, Farrar, Christian VandeVelde and Levi Leipheimer. Most of the stuff was run of the mill who's-gonna-win space-filler, but a few choice nuggets:
* I quizzed Levi and CVV about the course favoring the Pyrenees, and both said they were pleased, as they find they do better in the harder Pyrenean climbs, although Leipheimer said his big 2007 results had much to do with peaking in the third week.
* I asked Phil & Paul to talk about what the Saxo Bank implosion could do to the Tour, and they both guessed that it might get ugly. Can the Schlecks pull a Stephen Roche and keep going? [Roche and one lone teammate held off the rest of his Carrera team who favored Roberto Visentini en route to winning the 1987 Giro.] Citing Roche, LeMond and a few others Phil offered that the Schlecks "haven't got the brains" to bring that off.