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Inside the Tour: Tyler Farrar rides on despite crash, bruised ribs and mountains

Posted Jul 11 2009 10:03pm

TylerFarrarEditor' s Note:Inside the Tour de France is brought to you by ( Zeal Optics and MindsetTriathlon ) Be sure to check out their web sites (above) for your chance to win a Garmin 305 from Mindset and sunglasses, t-shirts, hats and much more from Zeal.

ST. GIRONS, France — He has two teammates in the top-10 overall standings of the Tour de France, so Tyler Farrar is persevering despite some serious aches, pains and bruised ribs

Farrar crashed approaching the finish in Barcelona in stage 6 and lost more than 10 minutes to former race leader Fabian Cancellara (Saxo-Bank) of Switzerland.

Besides looking for top placings in sprinting stages and recuperating with anti-inflammatory medications, Farrar has to help his Garmin-Slipstream teammates ride for overall title contenders Bradley Wiggins and Christian Vande Velde, currently in fifth and eighth places, respectively.

“Yeah, two days ago I hit the deck pretty hard,” said Farrar, who Saturday finished 138th in the 109.6-mile Andorra-la-Vielle to St. Girons stage 8, more than 23 minutes behind winner Luis-Leon Sanchez (Caisse d' Epargne) of Spain. “We were a little worried at first that I might have broken a few ribs.

“But once we got through the stage, back to the hotel and looked it over, it was just some bad bruising. It made for an unpleasant day yesterday, but I will live. They (his ribs) are loosening up and they' ll be alright.”

Farrar, 26, of Wenatchee, Wa., is competing in the Tour de France for the first time. He' s 163rd in the overall standings, trailing race leader Rinaldo Nocentini (AG2R-La Mondiale) by 1 hour, 2 minutes and 9 seconds.

“The race is playing out really well for the team,” he said. “The first days in the sprints went well for me. The time trial stage went well for our GC (overall standings) guys and you saw Christian (Vande Velde) and Brad (Wiggines) climbing with the best in the world yesterday.

“So everything is going really well there. We' re into the weekend now; it hasn' t been the easiest first week. There' s another day and then we have a rest day (Limoges).”

Farrar and the rest of the remaining 172 riders will encounter two of the most ominous Tour de France mountains in Sunday' s ninth stage, a 100-mile day from St. Gaudens to Tarbes.

The first ascent will be Col d' Aspin (elevation, 4,787 feet) about 30 miles into stage. But the more difficult ascent will journey to Col du Tourmalet (elevation 6,795), the second “hors categorie” (above category) in three days and appearing about 45 miles into the stage. It' s been part of the Tour de France since the race' s early days and progresses 10.6 miles with an average grade of 7.4 percent.

Mountain stages present the most severe challenge for riders seeking to complete the Tour de France. But the extreme climbs are particularly different for sprinters whose talents more conducive to short, explosive bursts of speed, but not great mountain endurance.

“Getting to Paris; That' s still the goal,” said Farrar. “So everyday I keep plugging away at it. As for the team, it' s just looking after Christian and Brad and making sure they stay out of trouble and help them get through the stage without losing any time.

“We sit down at a team meeting and plan out a strategy, but as I said before, for me the mountains are just about survival and getting through the stages. We have to get through the Pyrenees and the rest days and then after that there should be four of five days for sprint opportunities.”

Img184newjames_bioJames Raia is reporting live from the Tour de France for everymantri.com. James, a journalist since 1976, is co-author of Tour de France For Dummies. He owns several websites, contributes to many print and online publications. A long-distance runner for nearly 30 years, Raia also rides his bike -- to nearby coffeehouses. E-mail: james@byjamesraia.com.

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