Boy Racer versus the Battling Buddhist. It could be the sprint match-up of 2010.
Columbia’s Mark Cavendish going kick-to-kick against Garmin’s Tyler Farrar. Is the young rider from Wenatchee, Washington catching up to the fastest sprinter in he world?
Garmin-Transitions’ directeur sportif Johnny Weltz thinks so. “Tyler has really come around,” said Weltz at the Vuelta launch. “We knew that he had the potential, but it was just the moment for it to happen. I do think that he has the speed to beat Mark.”
Mark, you hear that over in the Canary islands where you’re training? Cavendish made a point last year of tweaking Garmin and Farrar constantly. It was a running joke at Team Columbia and there’s no love lost between the two American squads at odds.
After a frustrating string of near misses, Farrar finally got his first Grand Tour victory in stage eleven of the Vuelta a España. He also knocked off three wins in the Eneco Tour and stage three in Tirreno Adriatico where he beat the Manxman at the line.
According to Weltz, there are more first places to come. “If you look at the difference in Tyler, between the beginning and the end of the year, he is much leaner and stronger, and is climbing very well. He is perhaps not quite as snappy as Cavendish, but he is stronger [all round]. And I think he can get even stronger again.”
Farrar is a student of Buddhism, has traveled to Tibet and has two tattoos written in Pali, one on his arm that says “May you be happy,” and another on his wrist the denotes “inner peace.”
You might think the last 1000 meters of a ProTour sprint is the last place to bliss out. As the Lion King Mario Cippolini once said, “it’s like a war on the bike, with the words and the mind. This is what a sprinter is made of.”
When it comes to the trash talk, nobody beats Cavendish. In last year’s Giro, Cavendish said of Farrar, “it’s a shame for me to say this, but he’s not — he’s a super, super good sprinter, but he’s not at the level of Petacchi and me.”
In the classic Western True Grit, bad guy Robert Duval laughs off John Wayne’s bold statement that Wayne will arrest him — “I call that bold talk for a one-eyed, fat man.” Twisted Spoke things Cavendish better watch the wise cracks next year.
Tyler Farrar is closing and closing fast.