Waiting until nearly the last moment, Garmin-Sharp boss Jonathan Vaughters finally made the call on his Argyle Army for France. Off the list, sprinter Tyler Farrar and time trial ace Dave Zabriskie, two previous mainstays for the team in La Grand Boucle.
Farrar will have no chance to square off against Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma), Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) and Peter Sagan (Cannondale.) That must be bitter sweet for Farrar but every year he seems to be up and down and mostly down. In memory serves, he hasn’t had the best luck racing in Europe since had his breakthrough Tour stage win in 2011.
There are plenty of nasty crashes in the first week of Le Tour and the first three days on the narrow roads of Corsica are going to be scary. Farrar has had several concussions and perhaps Vaughters doesn’t want Farrar hitting the deck again.
This year he got a nice stage win in the Tour of California and barely missed another on the stage to Avila Beach, when crosswinds split the race and Jens Voigt powered away from Farrar and Sagan to steal victory by six seconds. Farrar got second and Thor Hushovd (BMC) took third and neither made their respective Tour teams.
It appears that Vaughters and DS Charlie Wegelius had gone all in for supporting the GC aims of Ryder Hesjedal, Dan Martin and Tour debutante Andrew Talansky. Just the other day, American Brent Bookwalter of BMC said that after riding two Tours, then missing last year’s edition he realized what an “honor” it is to ride the grandest of grand tours. We’re guessing Farrar is disappointed to be left off the guest list for the 100th birthday.
On the other hand, it’s hard to say what Dave Zabriskie is feeling these days — or any day, for that matter. The Silence of the Dave has been total since he crashed out warming up for the time trial in the Tour of California. Broken collar bone and chance to go for his what — seventh US time trial title?
We have no idea what kind of form the enigmatic Zabriskie has been able to put together since his crash in mid-may crash. If he was ready to go full gas, he would have been handy for stage 4’s team time trial around Nice. We have to assume Garmin management didn’t’ think he was quite ready.
The other issue would be if Zabriskie really, actually wanted to ride the Tour de France. In interviewing a number of Garmin personal and teammates in the last few years, it seems clear that Dave Z prefers racing closer to home on the wide, smooth roads of the United States.
He’s not a big fan of narrow winding race routes cluttered with road furniture. Maybe he also doesn’t’ like riding against big engines like Fabian Cancellara and Tony Martin. Hard to say because nobody — not even Vaughters — knows what goes on in Dave’s head.
The again, on Zabriskie’s own website he wrote that he was excited to head to France: “I admit that I’ve been looking forward to this edition for like 100 years.” The healing process was slow enough and he said it was “depressing” to miss his favorite event, the team time trial.
I always have a memory of Zabriskie in the 2010 Tour de France. There was one week, perhaps the second, where the temperatures were super high. Riders were complaining about the heat, the dehydration and tar on the roads was melting, making a hard race even harder.
I was standing just pas the finish of a flat stage where all 190 odd riders come to a jumbled standstill waiting for space to clear to get to their team buses. I noticed Zabriskie and he was staring off into space like he was a thousand miles away from France. Or perhaps he was simply intrigued by an architectural element on some rooftop.
All I can say is that Zabriskie does like to keep the world at a distance and perhaps as he winds down his career, he has no particular desire to throw himself into the stress of another Tour de France. Again, this is all speculation. With Dave, you work in the dark, taking guesses in the absence of communication.
That distance also reminds us of the Tour where Zabriskie crashed out and Garmin went on stage to collect the team prize in the Tour de France. They brought along a life-size foam-board cutout of Zabriskie. It always stuck us as summing up the essential Zabriskie — there and yet not there.
On thing is for sure, their replacements Rohan Dennis and Jack Bauer are damn happy they made the cut. It’s their first Tour de France and boy are they in for a mentally and physically demanding ride. It’s an honor to ride Le Grand Shindig. Even Zabriskie would tell you that.