The road to the Olympics still runs through Paris for Farrar

Farrar fights through tough first week with an eye toward the London Games

Photo: watson

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”Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp), cuts and abrasions to right elbow, leg and back.”

So read the medical report. Again. And again. It’s been a tough Tour de France for Garmin-Sharp. It’s been a tough Tour de France for Tyler Farrar.

The American sprinter has more bandages over his abrasions than he has skin exposed to the fresh summer air. But he marches on. You may be wondering why he hasn’t rubbed Neosporin on his wounds and headed for home in order to heal, regroup, and prepare for the London Olympics in less than three weeks.

Well, he’s a bike racer; and so he’s racing his bike.

“I had a meeting with the team and they were recommending that maybe I stop because they just really didn’t see any point in putting myself through it to continue,” Farrar said. “I said, ‘Yeah but, I want to at least take the start. I don’t want to just throw in the towel completely. So, if I start [stage 8] and I’m dropped after 20km then that’s how it is and at least I tried.’”

And so he kept riding, through the misery and the pain, with an agonizingly sore back from the falls he took three days in a row, just trying to find a reason to continue.

“The scan came back all clear — just sore muscles,” he said. “So I said, ‘I can tough that out.’ I was pretty close to stopping a few days ago, on stage 7. I got dropped with one other guy with 50km to go and my back was just… it was a nightmare. I was in hell all day that day.”

For a sprinter, the irony of the Tour is that, though they aren’t easy, the climbs and the time trials offer a chance at recovery, at least from the nerves of a high-speed finale — and usually a less nervous bunch. Let the GC guys fight it out day after day; let the sprinters lick their wounds when the roads turn up.

“I made a big improvement that night [after stage 7] and I got through [stage 8 to Porrentruy] just fine — obviously it was a hard day but my back was a lot better,” he said. “Spending an hour on the TT bike wasn’t so comfortable, but in the end Monday’s half a rest day and Tuesday is a complete rest day. So, I’m optimistic that things are going to improve a lot in the next 48 hours.

“We needed to decide — the Olympics aren’t that far off. I’m willing to suffer to get through the Tour but I don’t want to dig such a deep hole that I can’t get out of it.”

Farrar’s climbing out already. And he rides on; his Olympics bid runs through Paris, to London, for now.

Other U.S. Olympians

Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing), slated to join Farrar at the Olympics, has had a less dramatic opening week at the Tour, staying out of trouble while many others tumbled around him. Heading into the first rest day, he blitzed the time trial to gain the lead in the race for the white jersey, while capturing the fourth fastest time of the day.

Chris Horner (RadioShack-Nissan) has had a quiet Tour, riding through the first week in support of GC men Fränk Schleck and Andreas Klöden, who find themselves out of contention for yellow. Horner sits 23rd on GC, 9:07 behind Bradley Wiggins (Sky).

The other members of the U.S. Olympic road team, Timmy Duggan (Liquigas-Cannondale) and Taylor Phinney (BMC), are not racing the Tour. Duggan, the U.S. national road champion, started the Tour of Poland Tuesday. Phinney is training in Boulder, Colorado.

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