Garmin-Cervelo. Does the sprint train need more training?

Farrar. Downcast.

Tyler Farrar lost by a half bike length in stage 15 to Montpellier. Mark Cavendish and his HTC train rolled to their fourth victory in this year’s Tour de France. That puts Farrar 18 Tour wins behind the Member of the British Empire.

The talented Garmin-Cervelo sprinter mistimed his sprint, accelerating faster than Cavendish but too late for the finish-line. It was a near miss that drew criticism and raised questions.

Veteran sprinter Robbie McEwen questioned the tactics and organization of both Garmin-Cervelo and Omega Parma-Lotto. “To be honest I expected more [from the other teams] in the final kilometer but they simply weren’t organized enough,” he said via twitter.

Cavendish himself pointed out after the stage that other teams don’t want to ride for the sprint. He couldn’t understand the attitude and said if that was his squad, it would bruise his ego. By the way his ego is doing just fine, thanks.

The question for us, is just what exactly is missing in the sprints for Garmin-Cervelo? Something always seems slightly amiss, a little off in positioning, going to the front too early or too late, some lack of cohesion or commitment or aggressiveness.

In Montpellier, Farrar’s lead-out man Julian Dean admitted himself for not coming off the HTC train fast enough to boost his rider to the win. Always something.

Garmin-Cervelo is a well-drilled and extremely talented squad. They proved in the team time trial that they all ride extremely fast together as a unit. If they can they can win the TTT in impressive fashion, why not a sprint stage?

There’s no question that HTC-Highroad and Cavendish are a dominant combination. And Garmin has three wins so far in this Tour de France. So chapeaus all around.

However, there seems to be something wrong with the argyle express. With time trial champion David Millar, strong man sprinter Thor Hushovd at Farrar’s disposal in a bunch sprint and the experienced Dean, it would seem that the firepower is there.

Only the gun isn’t firing.

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook Email
  • Hitting the nail on the head, Matt. Similar question for the brothers Schleck.

  • Higgins

    One word: Focus.

    HTC are pretty much a one-trick pony in the TDF. No offense to the Martins of this world, but the most reliable chance of stage wins and Jersey Podiums for this team is centered on one man.
    If Tony Martin was in the top 7, then maybe there would be a different feel to the HTC drive, but this isnt the case and they are working for one result. Garmin as a team could do better, but havent gone into the tour with Farrar as a focus as HTC treat Cav, and the other teams like Lotto just dont have HTC's quality and are hoping to poach results, or rely on individual talent like Gilbert for at least stages and possibly a Jersey.

    I dont know what other teams think they could gain by taking over from HTC at the front, a lot of people probably think they are better letting HTC do all the work and then nipping in at the last gasp. With anyone other than Cav at the front, they would probably be right.

    • Good points. If I were the Garmin DS I wouldn't have my team do a damn thing before the last 5k. Just no reward in that and it's better to force HTC to work and hope they tire. Doesn't often happen. Matt

  • Agree with Higgins. HTC GC hopes Velits and Martin lead out the sprint with all they can muster. It's all about the train. Plus, Mark Renshaw could be a star sprinter on a team of his own, and he leads out Cav with unselfish loyalty. It is a marvel to watch HTC in a sprint, but they really do put most of their eggs in one basket.

  • beth

    So maybe it should be Farrar that leaves Garmn/Cervelo, and not Hushovd? Hushovd doesn't seem to win the kind of sprint that requires a lead-out. Look at Hesjedal today playing mini-leadout at the end of stage 16. Farrar is the one that requires an honest to goodness lead out train in the mold of HTC. He's the one that needs to go elsewhere if he can find the support he needs there.

  • Higgins

    Well, im relatively new to the sport, but it seems to me that HTC are pretty unique at the moment in their methods and total dedication to Cavs success, Rather than leave the team you are in, it might be more sensible sitting tight and hoping that HTC fragments at the end of this year, and everyone else gets a look-in next year. How many sprinters can hope to have a whole 9 man lead out train on every flat stage ?