In what’s a good sign for the upcoming northern classics, Tyler Farrar sprinted to third in the 73rd Gent-Wevelgem to put Garmin-Cervélo on the podium at the important, one-day semi-Classic in Belgium.
Belgian star Tom Boonen won in a hotly-contested sprint, with Italian Daniele Bennati crossing the line second just ahead of Farrar, who rounded out the podium with a solid performance by Garmin-Cervélo.
With a bit of bad luck, reigning world champion Thor Hushovd was caught up behind a crash with about 20km to go, so Farrar didn’t have the lead-out that he would have preferred.
Garmin-Cervélo sport director Jonathan Vaughters said Farrar’s podium confirms that a big win is bound to come just as the spring classics season is clicking into gear.
“Tyler did a great sprint today. Sadly, Thor got caught up in that crash, so we didn’t have Thor to help launch the sprint for Tyler. Boonen did an impressive sprint today, so hat’s off to him,” Vaughters said.
“The guys were a little tired today. We were one of the few teams to do both Harelbeke and Wevelgem back-to-back, so they felt it a little bit in their legs. Everyone was working for Tyler today. He was fresh and we ended up with a good result.”
Farrar’s third place came just a day after Garmin-Cervélo placed two in the top-10 at the E3-Prijs Harelbeke on Saturday, when Sep Vanmarcke just missed a trip to the podium with fourth and Heinrich Haussler was seventh. Farrar didn’t race Saturday in order to be at his best for a run at victory at Gent-Wevelgem.
“We keep getting these thirds and fourths, so one of these days, we’ll break through a get a win in one of these things,” Vaughters said. “We went full-speed this weekend and we’re satisfied because everyone is working well. This weekend will provide a good foundation going forward to Flanders and Roubaix.”
With third at Gent-Wevelgem and third at the Dwars door Vlaanderen-Waregem on March 23, Farrar earned his second podium of the week. He will carry that form and confidence into the Tour of Flanders (April 3) and Paris-Roubaix (April 10).
“Tyler thought he could win today, but Boonen was just a little bit better. The sprint was really between Boonen and Tyler. Bennati got around there at the end, but Tyler was right there for the win,” Vaughters said.
“Tyler is always confident he can win. He’s already won some big races this year and we’re all working together toward the goal of winning races. We’re getting closer and closer.”
The classics unit now regroups before the most important week of the season. The Tour of Flanders is next up on Sunday in one of the most dramatic and hard-fought races of the year.
“We’ll rest up and start doing recon of the Flanders course on Wednesday and Thursday,” Vaughters said. “Overall, the feeling is very good on the squad. Everyone’s ready for a big result. We just got to keep working at it. So far, we’ve been close, but no cigar.”
More photos from Gent-Wevelgem: