PARIS — Less than 30 minutes after the finish of the final stage of the Tour de France, Tyler Farrar emerged beer in hand from Garmin-Cervelo team bus parked on the Champs Elysees. He kissed his girlfriend, finished his beer and then looked for his bike.
The Wenatchee rider wasn’t able to find his way to the front and finished fourth in the 21st and concluding stage. He again lost to Mark Cavendish, the British rider who claimed his fifth stage of the race’s 98th edition and the 20th stage of his Tour de France career.
But Farrar, like other Garmin-Cervelo team members, helped showcase the squad’s collective strength during the Tour de France. And the team en masse rode to the podium to celebrate its impressive showing.
Thor Hushovd of Norway, the reigning world titlist, won two stages for Garmin-Cervelo. Farrar claimed his first career Tour de France win in stage 3. The team won the team time trial in stage 2.
Tom Danielson of Boulder, Colo., riding in the event for the first time, finished ninth, leading Garmin-Cervelo’s overall title contenders as the top American finisher. Christian Vande Velde of Lemont, Ill., placed 17th as the next-best U.S. finisher.
It all added up to a winning team classification (one of the several sub-competitions within the Tour de France) by more than 11 minutes.
The only missing component to the team’s win when eight riders and team director Jonathan Vaughters stood on the finishing podium to accept the team award was the squad’s ninth rider, David Zabriskie of Salt Lake City.
A former several-day leader of the Tour de France early in his career and a time trial specialist, Zabriskie left the race after fracturing his wrist in stage 9. But fittingly, Zabriskie, known for his unique sense of humor, was represented on the podium via a life-size cardboard cutout.
Farrar said about a week prior to the end of the Tour as it headed toward six days in the Alps and Pyrenees that his third participation and pending second finish in cycling’s biggest would be satisfying considering his stage 3 victory.
Crossing the line in victory, Farrar for the second time made a “W” sign with his thumbs and index fingers to honor Wouter Weylandt, his best friend who died in May during a crash in the Tour of Italy. It was Farrar’s sixth win of the season, and he also made gesture after his fifth win — and the first since the death of his friend — in June.
Farrar had several other opportunities for sprint victories in the Tour de France. But he said that while his team got better providing lead-outs to his sprint, it wasn’t yet at its best.
With his stage win, Farrar joined Zabriskie as the only American riders in history to win stages in all of cycling’s grand Tour or three-week races — the Tour de France, Tour of Italy and Tour of Spain.
When the most difficult stages of this year’s Tour de France arrived — three each in the Pyrenees and the Alps — Farrar pedaled along in the gruppetto, or the large pack at the back of the pack. In the last two days in the Alps, the group finished outside the time limit. But since the gruppetto included more than 20 percent of the field, riders weren’t eliminated for the “betterment of the race.”
By the time the field finally arrived in Paris, 23 days after 198 riders left Passage du Gois in stage 1 on July 2, Farrar was 159th among 167 finishers. He trailed race winner Cadel Evans (BMC) of Australia by 3 hours, 38 minutes and 32 seconds and finished the Tour de France for the second time in three participations.
Farrar, who lives in Ghent, Belgium, said he wasn’t sure of his remaining schedule this season, although he likely won’t compete in the United States.
Much has been made of the September 25 road course for the World Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark. It features a flat, wide finish conducive to Farrar’s sprinting abilities and he has often mentioned the race as an end-of-the-season goal.