As we reported on Friday, Farrar's rivalry with dominant sprinter Mark Cavendish was going to be one of the five big elements to watch in this year's three-week race, as Farrar had come close in many stages but had never been able to beat the sprinter from the Isle of Man during the Tour de France. (He had beaten him once in the Giro d'Italia.)
A minor crash inside the last mile of today's stage seemed to create confusion in the peloton, the collective group of riders sprinting in toward the finish line. Cavendish, whose American team, HTC, normally executes its approaches to the finish line perfectly, burned out early, and Cavendish got stuck in the pack behind, allowing Farrar to surge ahead to the finish.
As he crossed, Farrar flashed a brief "W" with his fingers, commemorating his friend Wouter Weylandt, who died racing the Giro d'Italia in May. Grief-stricken, Farrar pulled out of that race.
"The first time I saw Wouter's dad after everything that happened, he said 'Win a stage for Wouter in the Tour,'" Farrar told an interviewer for the Versus network. "I've been trying to for years, and it all came together today."
It's the second consecutive stage victory for the American Garmin-Cervelo team, which won the Tour's only team time trial yesterday by four seconds over another American team, BMC Racing. Garmin's Thor Hushovd will again wear the yellow jersey of the race's overall leader tomorrow in a hilly 106-mile race to Mûr-de-Bretagne.