Tour stage winner has ties to Troy

Published 6:10 am Thursday, July 7, 2011

Perhaps, not that many Americans celebrated the Fourth of July glued to the television watching the Tour de France. But, the Tom Farrar family in Troy had more than a passing interest in cycling’s showcase race.

Tom’s second cousin, Tyler Farrar, was racing that day.

And on Monday, Tyler Farrar became the first American to win a stage of the “Tour” on Independence Day.

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“We knew that Tyler was a professional cyclist, but it wasn’t until he started to have an impact in cycling that we really started to keep up with him,” Tom Farrar said. “Tyler’s family lived in Orlando but moved to the West Coast (Wenatchee, Washington) when he was a young boy. I haven’t seen him since he was about 5 or 6 years old.”

Farrar laughingly said that he doesn’t share his cousin’s passion for cycling, but he’s not surprised that Tyler likes life in the fast lane.

Tyler’s dad, Dr. Ed Farrar, an orthopedic surgeon, is an adventurer who played linebacker at Georgia Tech, summitted Himalayan peaks, paddled white-water rapids and cycled to the top of Col du Galibier, which is often the highest climb in the Tour de France.

Ed Farrar was severely injured in October when a car ran head-on into him as he cycled near his home. The accident nearly ripped his body in half and cost him an inch of his spinal cord. Farrar is paralyzed from the chest down and can no longer perform surgery.

Tom Farrar said that his cousin Tyler is made from the same mold as his father.

“Tyler has been an avid cyclist since he was a young boy,” Farrar said. “His aunt and uncle were living in Paris and Tyler visited them during the Tour de France. That’s when he decided that cycling was what he wanted to do.”

Farrar said that for much of the time Tyler trained and competed in cycling events, he lived in the Netherlands.

“Cycling is big in that part of the world,” Farrar said. “He had a good friend that he trained with and raced with who was killed in a cycling accident recently.”

Tyler Farrar dedicated his victory in Monday’s Tour de France to his longtime friend, Belgian Wouter Weylandt who died after a crash during the third stage of the Giro d’Italia in May.

After crossing the finish line of the third stage of the Tour de France, Farrar held up his hands to form a “W” with his fingers and thumbs in tribute to Weylandt.

Tyler Farrar, age 27, has overcome much adversity to take a spotlight on cycling’s biggest stage, the Tour de France. He has now won a stage in each of cycling’s three-week major tours – France, Italy and Spain.

“We haven’t been in communication but it’s just neat to have an association with him,” Tom Farrar said.

The 98th Tour de France runs from July 2 to July 24 and is made up of 21 stages and will cover a distance of 2,131.6 miles.