Farrar to debut for 2013 at Tour Down Under

WorldTour opener will be the first race since crash at 2012 Tour of Britain for American sprinter

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

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LEON, Spain (VN) — Tyler Farrar will open his 2013 season at the Tour Down Under, Garmin-Sharp team officials confirmed Thursday.

The WorldTour kick off (January 22-27) will be a comeback of sorts for Farrar, who crashed out of the Tour of Britain in a stage 1 pileup on September 10 and did not race again last year.

The American sprinter suffered a concussion that put an end to his up-and-down 2012 season, forcing him out of the U.S. squad for the world championships in Valkenburg, Netherlands. Team doctors cleared Farrar in October to resume training.

Back with Garmin for a sixth season, Farrar will once again be the team’s focus for the sprint finales.

Farrar has developed into one of the peloton’s top sprinters, winning stages in all three grand tours as well as one-day classics such as the Vattenfall Cyclassics (2009-2010) and GP Scheldeprijs (2010), but he had a rough ride in 2012.

The season was marked by some narrow misses and crashes, including a heavy fall that knocked him out of the Giro d’Italia.

An early season focus on the spring classics saw him finish second in a photo finish to Argos-Shimano’s Marcel Kittel at Scheldeprijs, yet he remained winless until taking two stages at the USA Pro Challenge in August.

Farrar has raced the Tour Down Under only once, in 2011, but the long trip seemed to set him up for a solid season. He quickly won two legs of the Mallorca Challenge upon his return to Europe and won a stage at Tirreno-Adriatico and a breakthrough stage win at the Tour de France, which he dedicated to Wouter Weylandt, who had died in a crash in stage 4 of the Giro earlier that season.

Veteran South African sprinter Robbie Hunter, 35, will be back as Farrar’s leadout man for the bunch sprints. In an interview last week with South Africa’s Sport24, he said he and Farrar are developing into a more effective pair.

“Next season will be interesting. Tyler and I have been working together for a few years and we are beginning to understand each other well and to know what needs to be done and when it needs to be done,” he said. “Obviously, if I manage to do things correctly, Tyler will be closer to the line and also closer to winning.”

Hunter will join Farrar at the Tour Down Under for Garmin.

Team officials said the official roster will be disclosed in the coming days, but other starters will include Garmin’s four Australian riders — Rohan Dennis, Lachlan Morton, Steele von Hoff (all three new for 2013) and Nathan Haas – as well as New Zealander Jack Bauer.

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