It just keeps getting better for the Argyle Armada at the Tour de France. A day after winning the team time trial and capturing the maillot jaune, Garmin-Cervélo made it two in a row, with a breakthrough sprint victory with Tyler Farrar in Monday’s 198km third stage.
“It’s a dream to win today. I was close the past few Tours, second, third, second, so to win a stage is incredible,” Farrar said.
“To have the world champion and yellow jersey leading you out is amazing. Our team was perfect today, with Millar and Dean and Hushovd. The first objectives were to win the team time trial and to win a stage. Now we’ll see what the rest of the Tour brings.”
Garmin-Cervélo proudly rode at the front of the peloton to protect the leader’s jersey held by Hushovd. Five riders peeled off the front early and methodically built up a seven-minute, but it was all for naught as Garmin kept up steady to pressure to assure that Hushovd would arrive to the line with chances to defend his yellow jersey as well as challenge for the stage victory.
“The objective today was to win with Tyler and keep the jersey,” Hushovd said. “After winning yesterday and having the jersey, now we win a stage, it’s perfect. We’ll see tomorrow if we can keep the streak going.”
Dave Zabriskie, Ramunas Navardauskas and Tom Danielson took turns setting tempo on the front of the peloton to keep the pressure. Strong crosswinds became a factor, especially over the day’s lone climb at a bridge over the Loire at Saint-Nazaire. The team rode perfectly to set up Farrar. Millar took a long pull in the closing 500 meters, before Hushovd then long-time leadout man Dean finishing off the work to set up Farrar.
French rider Romain Feillu came through second and JJ Rojas was third, but Farrar won with style in his first-career Tour de France stage victory.
Farrar is only the second U.S. rider to win a stage in all three Grand Tours, behind teammate David Zabriskie. He also becomes the first U.S. rider to win a Tour stage on the Fourth of July.
“It makes it even more special to win today,” Farrar said. “The team was just perfect. I couldn’t have asked for a better lead-out. It was just up to me to finish it off.”
Garmin-Cervélo will have another chance in Tuesday’s hilly 172.5km fourth stage from Lorient to Mure-de-Bretagne. The uphill finale could present David Millar with a chance to capture the yellow jersey, who started the stage tied with Hushovd in second overall. The stage ends with a short, but steep uphill rise with an average grade of 6.9 percent over the final two kilometers. Farrar and Hushovd have already indicated it’s probably too steep for them.
“Maybe there’s a chance for me to take yellow,” Millar said. “It’s a good little climb. A rider like (Philippe) Gilbert is the favorite, but we have a bit of a gap on him from the team time trial, so it might be enough. It’s going to be a real dogfight. It’s going to be close.”
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