ARENBERG-PORTE DU HAINAUT, France — Bruised, bandaged and slightly broken, Tyler Farrar remained in the Tour de France today, one day after his team was ravaged with injuries and lost its overall title contender.
Farrar, competing with a small fracture in his left wrist as well as a hematoma on his left elbow and various abrasions, finished 134th in the 213-kilometer third stage from Wanze, Belgium, and into France.
“To be honest, I can’t believe I made it through,” Farrar told Versus TV after today’s stage. “Somehow I’m still here. I guess that’s a good sign.”
The stage featured seven sections of cobblestones and was expected to be the first tumultuous day of this year’s race. But crashes marred the first and second stages, including two tumbles within a minute on Monday by the Wenatchee rider who’s competing in his second Tour de France.
“The second time I fell I thought I had really messed something up,” said Farrar, who finished 6 minutes and 28 seconds behind stage winner Thor Hushovd (Cervelo) of Norway and improved his overall place to 168th among the remaining field of 189. “It was incredibly painful and I was bleeding all over the place. I lost it for a second.
“Like I’ve said the Tour is not a race I take lightly, so I pulled myself together and managed to get in a group of about 10 guys. I’m just trying to get through the next few days. But for a while I was just screaming and crying.”
Farrar’s misfortune was compounded by several other teammates’ equally bad luck. Team captain Christian Vande Velde had to abandon the race with broken ribs, while David Zabriskie, David Millar and others have all repeatedly crashed in the first two stages.
“We taped up the wrist the best we can,” said Farrar, “And I’m just going to clinch my teeth and bear it.”
While he finished the third stage without further injuries, Farrar did have to get a replacement bike during today’s trek. The cobblestoned sections prompted several additional falls by riders and damaged bikes.
Farrar said he hopes to get stronger as the week progresses but doubts he can contest for a win in Wednesday’s stage 4, which is expected to favor sprinters like himself. Prior to the race’s start, Farrar had designated stage 4 — a flat 153.5-kilometer journey from Cambrai to Reims — as one of the nine stages he thought he’d have a shot at winning.
“If I feel like I did today, no,” he said. “I can barely pull on the handle bars with my left hand.”
“I don’t know for sure if I can finish,” he added. “I don’t think I’ll challenge much in the next few days. But if I can get through the next few days and take the pain, then maybe it’s going to get better.”
“It’s his decision and we’re playing it by ear,” Garmin-Transitions director Jonathan Vaughters said of Farrar’s continued participation. “We’ll see. The injury he has it’s not in jeopardy of making it a long-term injury. But if he feels like he can’t continue, then he won’t.”
World sports editor Steve Maher contributed to this report.
James Raia is covering Tyler Farrar and the Tour de France for The Wenatchee World. He can be reached at email@example.com.