Julian Dean Diary
Well, I have to say that the big races this year were not really that fulfilling for me. In fact, I was pretty disappointed with my performances overall. I also feel that I've had a fair bit of bad luck. But there's no doubt about it - I didn't go into the Spring Classics with the condition that I needed to be in. There were a varying amount of reasons for this - most of which were a matter of circumstance and most of which were, frustratingly, out of my control.
The team, as most of you may already know, had a very hard time with a lot of illnesses and injuries to some really important riders for our Classics campaign. This had somewhat of a snowball effect on those of us who were fit and healthy - we were required to race more than we normally would. So in my case, I felt that I didn't get the chance to do the preparation for the big races that I would've liked. Normally, I like to train my way into good form by structuring my training into blocks endurance, strength and speed, with a bit of racing to give me that edge. Unfortunately, due to all of the goings on and bad luck our team had, I was only left the option to race and rest which, for me, is not the way to get to my peak.
I find this all really disappointing as I worked hard the whole winter toward the Classics and it never came off how I had hoped. It's a difficult thing to deal with when you prepare so long for something and it doesn't work out.
In terms of how I was in the team though, I wasn't too bad. On a whole however, our team wasn't too good. I was one of only two finishers in the Three Days of De Panne for our team. I punctured and crashed on the first day so lost 10 minutes. Although I finished well down on G.C, I don't think it reflected how I was feeling.
In Paris-Roubaix I was there with the mindset to help our boys - in particular, Tafi and Hoffman. The team had big objectives for this race and I was keen to play my part. I was feeling really good and felt that I was getting better with every race. I wanted to turn myself insideout to help Hoffman & Tafi. Didn't quite last as long as I wanted to in the race but that was only because I was called on to guard early. Even before the first cobble section, I had to wait for Tafi twice, who'd punctured, to try and help him back up to the peloton. Then there was a big crash 10km before the first section of cobbles which I got caught up in. On the first section, I was able to make it back to the front group. Then, on the third section, Hoffman punctured and I gave him my wheel. I got back to the front again and then a couple of sections later, Tafi had a major dilemma. He punctured and Thomas and I both stopped for him. He couldn't take either of our wheels as he had a special bike which meant that the fat tyres Thomas and I were both using, couldn't fit into his frame. So we had to wait for the team car to come by. We waited 3 minutes. I tried to help him back but there was only room for one with the car, to get back to the group. That was the curtain for me - after 200km. Oh well, I did what I could for the team and that was what I was supposed to be there for so I was feeling happy with myself.
Today I had the last race of my scheduled races. It was the GP Scheldeprijes and I felt that this was going to be a good one for me. It's not the most glamorous of the Classics but it's still a 1.1 cat and a lot of UCI points. I had been improving in the races and felt that I had the form to do something good. Just as the story goes though when you're feeling good and have a real chance at some good points, the luck is the worst. When I was lining myself up for the bunch kick with 1.5km to go, I had a good position close to the front and was getting ready to open it up when I had to. A moment's panic by some dude in front of me closed the curtain on yet another of my opportunities to get a result. He hit the brakes and rode off the road, taking me and 2 others with him. I went down into a screaming heap on the side of the road. I lay there a moment with only one thought, "F***! Why today? Why today?". I was almost in tears. Not from the pain of crashing - I had landed in a pile of sandy dirt - but just from the anguish and sense of loss. The loss of a chance that I really needed and one that I felt I could've made good use of. I guess I had to be happy that I wasn't badly hurt but sometimes even that isn't much of a consolation.
I know this is just the life of bike racing and the race today, and in fact the entire Spring, has just been another reminder of how things don't always work out as you want them to. I just have to keep battling on and hope that it turns around. I'm sure it will. It's just a matter of controling those factors I can and having the rest fall into place. Now I want to concentrate on making the team for the Tour de France.
Bjarne has told me that it's a long shot that I'll be included in the team. His focus is on Tyler Hamilton. But I believe that I can show him I'm worth taking to the Tour as a help not only in the Team Time Trial - I'm good at the TTT from my track background and although I'm not the best Individual Time Trialer, I've always managed to pump out a good TTT - but also as a help in the other stages. And there's also the possibility of being a stage winner if given the opportunity.
Anyway, I'm finally heading back to Spain tonight. I haven't been home for more than 1 day in 7 wks so I'm hanging out to spend some time at home, relaxing and doing some quality training.
Take care and I'll see ya out there,
Read more about what Julian gets up to in the peloton on his Web site at http://www.juliandean.co.nz/
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