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PEZ Talk: Vattenfall Winner Tyler Farrar
Garmin’s Tyler Farrar made history when he won Sunday’s Vattenfall Classic in Hamburg. Not only was he the first American to win the race; he becomes only the fourth rider from the US to win a Classic – joining Lance Armstrong (San Sebastian ’95 & Fleche ’96) George Hincapie Gent – Wevelgem ’01, and Tyler Hamilton at Liege ’03. PEZ caught up with the man who has been consistently one of the fastest in the world throughout 2009, the day after his triumph.

PEZ: Congratulations, Tyler; do you know that you’re only the fourth US rider to win a Classic, after Lance, George and Tyler Hamilton?
Tyler: Nobody has mentioned that, wow, pretty cool!

PEZ: What was the Garmin game plan?
Tyler: For me, the race was a big priority, the team was behind me and we rode it so that it would end in a sprint for me. We gave Martijn Maaskant his freedom to go with any moves on the Waseberg climb – but after the last ascent he was to fall back to helping with setting the sprint up.

PEZ: That long two man break suited the sprinters.
Tyler: Yeah, it was really easy on the big lap but it gets very nervous approaching the circuits. The thing about pro racing is that if it’s slow at the start, it’ll be really fast at the end – that’s how it works!

The big win podium kisses have been a long time coming for Farrar.

PEZ: What’s the Waseberg like?
Tyler: It’s fun! It’s short and steep – hard, but on its own it would be nothing; what makes it difficult is the five kilometres of battling for position, riding into it.

PEZ: There were a heck of a lot of guys shelled in the last hour.
Tyler: On the circuits, it’s attrition, every time up the four climbs of the Waseberg guys get dropped.

PEZ: QuickStep’s taking control on the run in helped you.
Tyler: Over the climb for the last time, Martijn started to ride for me, but there were only three of us – because of the crashes – me, Chris Sutton and Martijn; we couldn’t control it on our own. The vast majority of times the race has been run, it has ended in a field sprint, so the sprinter teams will ride. The Columbias were riding for Greipel, Milram were riding for Ciolek, we were riding too, but it was good that QuickStep took the initiative – they had Boonen and Davis for the finale.

PEZ: The finish looked dangerous.
Tyler: It’s a nervous final but I really like a finish like that at the end of a long day’s racing – positioning is crucial, though.

PEZ: Who was your eye on?
Tyler: Greipel – I haven’t raced against him this year but he’s won a lot of races and it’s his home classic, so I figured he’d be dangerous; Matti Breschel and Stuey O’Grady from Saxo; Davis and Boonen for QuickStep and Ciolek for Milram.

The swarm opened up just enough for Farrar to shoot through for the win.

PEZ: Talk us through that last K, please.
Tyler: Martijn did a lot of work to get me in to position, but crashed with two K to go; then Chris Sutton did some brilliant work to take me up – we infiltrated Columbia at about one to go.

It was Saxo who punched round at 500 to go and I got kinda swarmed, it wasn’t until the last 100 to 150 that I could see clear tar in front of me – then I just put my head down and went!

PEZ: And that roar you let out?
Tyler: I was happy! It’s been a successful season for me, but constantly coming second is frustrating; I guess it was a cry of relief!

That’s a happy man.

PEZ: Did you have a party?
Tyler: We had a little champagne, but it was pretty low key; we have the ENECO Tour starting on Tuesday.

PEZ: I saw David Millar and Martijn go down, how are they?
Tyler: Dave’s OK but Martijn had to get 11 stitches in his knee, he has to take a week off – it wasn’t just them; Julian Dean came down and so did Christian Vandevelde. Christian didn’t break anything but he’s decided that he’s not in shape to start the ENECO.

Right after the race, it’s get cleaned up, take a deep breath, and head for the podium.

PEZ: What does a classic winner do, the day after the race?
Tyler: We went for a spin: had a coffee, but the races keep coming, ENECO starts on Tuesday.

PEZ: Has finishing the Giro and Tour this year made you stronger?
Tyler: Yeah, I certainly think so. It started last year though; I had a solid season riding week-long races and events like the Tour of Portugal. This year I’ve ridden California, Tirreno, the Giro and the Tour – I feel I’ve progressed, become stronger all round, not just in the sprint.

Farrar has been racing the hardest races the sport has to offer all year long. He already has two Grand Tours under his belt in 2009 – one more still to go.

PEZ: Next up?
Tyler: ENECO, the Vuelta, the Worlds – I don’t think the circuit suits me, but I’d like to ride for as long as I can, 200/220 kilometres in support of the US team – Franco Belge and Paris-Tours. I’m going right to the end – it just depends if my body holds up to the work load!

PEZ: Paris – Tours must be a priority?
Tyler: Yes, especially since I have unfinished business there – last year, I won the field sprint for fifth, just four seconds behind the four man break.

PEZ: Any messages for Mark Cavendish?
Tyler: No, not really.

How can that man be so fast and aggressive on a Felt, yet so calm and polite when he’s out of the saddle? Congratulations again to Tyler; thanks for the time and “all the best” for the rest of 2009.


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