Farrar sprints to Vuelta stage 11 victory and his first grand tour win.

Tyler Farrar loses monkey in Caravaca.

Tyler Farrar loses monkey in Caravaca.

Tyler Farrar finally threw the monkey off his back. Tossed the furry primate into the streets of Caravaca, Spain.

The perennial second place rider from Garmin-Slipstream won the 11th stage of the Vuelta by a bike length over Philippe Gilbert of Silence-Lotto.

The stage from Murcia to Caravaca took 5 hours and 11 minutes — that’s exactly how long it took Farrar to get his first big grand tour win. But you could argue it was more like 4 months, as he’s been knocking on the door since the Giro d’talia.

It wasn’t a text-book sprint and it wasn’t easy. Liquigas drove the peloton but ran out of gas just before the finish line. The Columbia train of Andre Greipel never got out of the station. Dead legs and chaos. The fast men were left to fend for themselves.

Two hundred meters from glory, Farrar found himself in an disastrous position – lead out man for every other sprinter in the race. He powered forward, furious and desperate, driving hard, starting to fade, then victory at last. Adios senior monkey.

Caravaca, nicknamed the City of Legend, has proved a lucky town for American tour riders. David Zabriskie won a Vuelta stage here in 2004. The famous Cross of Caravaca is supposedly an object of wish fulfillment — it protects again fever, plague and perhaps gave Farrar that bit of good luck he’s been missing.

One thing is for sure: Farrar will need to practice opening the champagne. Unable to pull the cork, Tyler pretended to take a swig looking like a lycra mime. No wild spray for the photographers, not soaked podium girls. But the 2nd place curse is broken at last. Winners don’t have to open the bubbly — or pay for it.

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