By now you've heard the news... Tyler Farrar, the Wonder of Wenatchee, Washington, is saying goodbye to his long-time professional home, the Argyle Bunch. Garmin are undergoing some significant changes, blah blah blah... short of it is, if they offered him a contract at all, it must not have been a very good one. My guess is that they told him he might get a deal with them depending on what happened with the incoming Cannondale riders, but couldn't guarantee him bubkis. So on he moves.
This is Farrar's first team change since he departed Cofidis in 2007. He also came up the ranks with Jelly Belly (who make really good jelly beans, I can now assure you) and HealthNet, if you're scoring at home. Not too many moves for a 30-year-old veteran of the Peloton. Farrar acknowledged today that it's like leaving family behind, but onward he must go. Where, he wouldn't divulge, with a team announcement due sometime soon. So we speculate.
Now, as one of his biggest fans, you can take my blatherings for what you will, but I think he's got an interesting career left. As recently as the last time they ran the races, he finished second in Dwars and E3. Second! Now, don't hear what I'm not saying -- he isn't the second-best classics rider in the world by anyone's estimation. But now that Belgium has switched over to a Mediterranean climate, on those pleasant spring days when the bunch finishes together, he can wind it up and take a shot at that less-loved but equally pointerrific version of a major victory.
The other thing he does is SWA -- Sprinting While American. Sprinting While Belgian is not a terribly salable skill, unless you can sprint like nobody's business. But Sprinting While American gives you a unique purpose: coming to the States to contest our three mini-tours. Points are just hanging out there, waiting for someone to grab them. So too are big-company sponsors, and American eyeballs are nothing to sneeze at either (even if you have to put up with the bad costumes and stupid sprinting). It's all about money, ain't a damn thing funny. You got to score points in this land of milk and honey. For what it's worth, Farrar is the third-ranked American on CQ, just behind Talansky. At the Podium Cafe World Rankings, which emphasize the classics just a tad, he's 33rd in the world, second Yank. Points!
So yeah, Farrar can still provide some good value. I don't see him becoming a semi-domestique like a lot of sprinters with his resume (great for a while, then less so). You guys keep telling me he's not a great bike-handler, which is more or less the main key to the sprint train game. Oh, and he's fluent in Dutch, making him one of like three Americans to progress past "totally useless" in a second language.
Add it all up and I can see him on a Dutch speaking team as a fill-in sprinter and card to play in several of the classics. And which Dutch speaking team has an opening there? Hm... Belkin seem to be in great flux. They've only got about 17 riders signed so far for "De Lotto - Bianchi" and one of them is not Theo Bos. Roompot are even less certain, but they also don't seem to be targeting foreigners, so I'll guess no on that. Giant-Shimano have more than enough sprinters, and while light on the classics, I'd be a bit surprised to see Farrar land there.
On the other side of the border, Lotto-Soudal (sticking with 2015 names) seem like a possibility. I'm not sure exactly how he fits, but he and Tim Wellens could maybe work together a bit. Wanty would be another fit, where Farrar would be one of their featured guys. And my dream landing spot is Etixx-Quick Step, where Farrar would pair up with Zdenek Stybar as part of a "Classics and Cross" mini-discipline, with Farrar racing the fall CX season starting with Starcrossed at the Marymoor Velodrome in a couple weeks. Tyler would KILL in cross! Domestically anyway. As for the road portion, I dunno, Lefevre always seems to want more classics guys. Not terribly likely though.
Let's do a poll!