Stage 4 of the Tour de France this morning heated up just a few kilometers from the finish in Reims, as the teams of all the big sprinters maneuvered to get their men into position to cross the finish line first. Everyone predicted that it would be the unstoppable Mark Cavendish taking the glory, propelled by a lead-out team that would rocket him into the lead. But at the last minute a counter-effort by Italian Alessandro Petacchi threw Cavendish's plans into disarray, as he surged ahead.
And then, what's that? Where on earth did Tyler Farrar come from? The Wenatchee Wonder wasn't expected to contest today's sprint, as he's still wincing at his fractured left wrist and banged-up elbow. And yet there he seemed to be, slipping in front of Cavendish and around the side of Petacchi to take second place.
Of course, it wasn't Farrar. A closer inspection of the race finale shows Farrar coming home safely in 23rd place, at a leisurely pace. In fact, that Garmin-Transitions rider was Farrar's teammate and lead-out man, Julian Dean, racing for his own glory, for once.
"I'm really happy for Julian," Farrar said in a press release sent a few minutes ago. "I knew I wasn't going to be able to really go for the sprint and I was happy to help Julian and Robbie [Hunter] - espeically [sic] given how much they lay on the one for me. I don't know what the next few stages hold, I'm just taking it day by day, hoping I'll continue to recover and helping the team any way I can."
Farrar will likely have to watch tomorrow's stage to Montargis — another sprinter's delight — from the middle of the pack.