Farrar a classics man at MTN-Qhubeka. Deju vu.
Brian Smith over at MTN-Qhubeka was talking the other day about how his team would get Farrah, Goss and Boasson Hagen back on track. The strategy, at least for Goss and Boasson Hagen, comes down to not being Orica-Green Edge and Sky.
Well, that seems easy. No coaching or resources required. Just don’t put the pressure on poor Edvald and Matthew like they did at their previous teams. Addition by subtraction. Sky and Orica Green Edge were pressure cookers, they expected results, they went into races expecting to win.
Thus the MTN-Qhubeka strategy is just the opposite, Let them be and let them race their bikes. Don’t constantly check their diet, their close adherence to sports science, their mental state. Turn off the spotlight. Leave them alone.
Well, okay. Sometimes that works and in the case of Goss and Boasson Hagen that seems kinda reasonable. We expect Edvald to do better in more relaxed circumstances where he isn’t supposed to win on demand. It wouldn’t surprise Twisted Spoke if Edvald wins more in 2015 than he did this year. We hope that’s the case and same goes for Goss whose career has stalled dramatically while riding for the home team.
However, we’re not sure the same strategy will work with Farrar. Was he really unhappy at Garmin? Did he feel under tremendous pressure from the Men in Argyle? Perhaps but we never had a big sense that he was suffering under the weight of the world. He just wasn’t as fast as Cav or Kittel or Sagan. A bummer but understandable. Not many people have that kind of speed.
So from a pressure stand-point, that wouldn’t seem to apply. Yes, the intellectually curious Farrar will benefit from a change of surroundings that include travel to Africa and an empowering mission beyond winning bike races. He will certainly appreciate those things.
However, the second strategy for Farrar is to turn him into a classics guy. In Smith’s words: “Farrar is excited about us taking him out of that mould of bunch sprinter at Garmin and into more of a Classics rider.”
Really? This has been tried before with Farrar at Garmin and the results were disappointing enough that the following season they scrapped that plan and went back to Farrar as sprinter. He lost his top end turbo with the classics training and lost plenty of momentum, too.
At the time, it struck us as a good idea to switch things up and Farrar, who lives in Ghent, Belgium, has a true fondness for the classics. If he could just get to the finish with the front group, he had a shot to win, right? Except he rarely made the front group and something always seemed to go sideways.
While it’s true that Farrar has won Scheldeprijs and the Vattenfall Cyclassics, and taken third in both the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Gent–Wevelgem, it still feels like a big ask. Are Goss and Boasson Hagen going to help him in that classic campaign? With the super-powered MTN-Qhubeka squad dictating the race?
We’re fans of Tyler Farrar and he is super nice guy. We hope to see him do well and take the top step of the podium, not second or third.