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Tyler Farrar on his career: ‘I don’t have many regrets’

After retiring from cycling, America's top sprinter plans to work as a firefighter or EMT and promises he'll never ride in the rain again.

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Tyler Farrar quietly rode into the sunset last month. Never a fan of the limelight, the 33-year-old discretely put an end to his 13-year racing career surrounded by family and friends at the Canadian WorldTour races.

As America’s top sprinter, Farrar won stages in all three grand tours en route to 29 career wins before evolving into a road captain role at Dimension Data in 2015.

Speaking to VeloNews as he transitions into a post-racing future, Farrar said he has few regrets during his career.

“I think it was the right call to retire. I had a great run,” Farrar said. “I don’t have many regrets. The whole thing has been a dream come true. I just think how lucky I was to live that life for 15 years, and be part of that circus that it was.”

Farrar had one more year remaining on his Dimension Data contract for 2018 but decided the time was right to hang up the cleats. He admitted that he felt like he wasn’t holding up his end of the bargain.

“We started discussing it back in June already,” Farrar said. “I was on [Dimension Data] as team captain, and if you’re asking me as captain who is best for a race, there were a lot of guys, and I was thinking, send him instead of me. It was what was best for the team, and best for me as well. If you stick around too long, if you’re getting your head kicked in, it’s not fun.”

Farrar turned pro in 2006, and soon emerged as a steady performer in the bunch sprints. He would regularly challenge Mark Cavendish in the major races. Eventually, he won six grand tour stages: three in the Vuelta a España, two in the Giro d’Italia, and one in the Tour de France. He also won GP Scheldeprijs, the Vattenfall Cyclcassics twice as well as overall titles at Circuit Franco-Belge and Delta Tour Zeeland in what was a long-running love affair with the classics.

Farrar’s rivalry with Cavendish made headlines, but the pair eventually became good friends as teammates at Dimension Data. Farrar also was caught up in his fair share of crashes. He once rode a fan’s bike to make it to the finish at the Tour Down Under.

“I am very happy with what I did during my career,” Farrar said. “The results on paper are something special. More than the victories, there are things cannot easily quantify. Being part of two young, upstart programs, and fighting to arrive to the top of the sport, that was tremendously satisfying. Slipstream was an espoir team when I joined in 2008, and now it’s one of the top teams of the peloton. And then I switched over to MTN, and to go through that process again. I take a lot of pride in being part of both of those programs.”

Farrar is an avid skier, hiker, and hunter. He’s looking forward to life as a “normal person.” He hopes to work as a firefighter or EMT in order “to give something back.” Plus, he plans to buy a season-long ski pass.

“It’s a peculiar life you lead as a pro cyclist,” he said. “You are six or more months a year on the road, living out of a suitcase, so it’s a bit of a luxury of year where I don’t have to do that. I want to see what normal life looks like. We bought a house in Seattle, and we have our first baby due in February. I want to be home for that.”

He said it’s likely he won’t work as a sport director or manager in the near future. But he quickly added: “Never say never.” Will he keep riding? He added one caveat.

“The one rule I will have is that I am not going to ever ride again if it’s raining,” he said. “I am passionate about the bike, but right now, I want to do all those things I couldn’t do when I was a pro.”

Check the November/December 2017 issue of VeloNews for a complete interview with Farrar.

An American in France

What’s it like to be an American cyclist living in France? Watch to get professional road cyclist Joe Dombrowski’s view.