LES ESSARTS, France — It wasn’t the first Tour de France win he expected, but Tyler Farrar was part of the winning team time trial in stage 2 and his teammate Thor Hushovd of Norway assumed the race lead Sunday.
A sprinter hopeful of claiming one of nine flat stages in the race’s 98th edition, Farrar instead was part of Garmin-Cervelo team that completed the 23-kilometer (14.2 miles) circuit in 24 minutes, 52 seconds.
The team’s four-second win over Sky and BMC, pushed Hushovd, the team’s veteran Norwegain world titlist in the race lead with another teammate David Millar of Great Britain in second place overall with the same time but second via a tiebreaker.
Garmin was the ninth of 22 teams who began in seven-minute intervals to finish. But the squad then waited about 90 minutes and watched the remaining teams finish on a television in the team’s bus before knowing its time held.
Farrar, the Wenatchee rider, is competing in his third Tour de France and seeks to end his string of second and third-place finishes to British sprinter Mark Cavendish.
Sporadically held, the team time trial features each teams’ riders negotiating a course in formation, often switching positioning for aerodynamic efficiency. Each team gets a time based on its fifth rider crossing the finish line.
Teams often dispatch riders off the pace as a team time trial progresses and after they’ve completed their rotations at the front of the group.
Farrar fell off the pace, finishing eighth among the team and nearly two minutes behind his winning teammates.
Farrar, who began the stage in 181st position among the 198-rider field after losing more than four minutes when caught in a large pile-up with five miles left in the opening stage 1, improved to 176th position. He trails Hushovd by 6:26.
Farrar, who has four wins this season, is among the favorites Monday in stage 3 — the event’s first true sprinters’ stage. And it’s likely why he fell off the group — to conserve energy for a strong stage 3 effort.
The field will ride 198 kilometers (122 miles) from Olonne-sur-Mer to Redon. The stage has one brief category 4 (the least severe) climb after about 143 kilometers (89 miles).
But the route is ideal for a massive sprint, with only predicted strong ocean winds and the usual potential predicaments of a Tour de France stage awaiting the field.