Julian Dean Diary
beginning to see how the race was taking its toll on everyone. Guys were dropping like flies yet although my legs hadn?t felt super up until this point, they were starting to feel better and I found myself riding more and more at the front during the harder moments. And with my awesome new carbon ?Lightweight? wheels, coming out of the corners and over the rolling parts, it seemed effortless. Even on the cobbled part of the course, which I had been a bit dubious about using the wheels for - they performed awesomely. During the race I was just hoping that I didn't puncture because I didn't want to have to part with them!
After experiencing the Tour, the atmosphere at
With four laps to go, I followed Van Petegem up the climb and the race really started to split up for the first time. We crested the climb with 25 or so riders and I thought that we were good to go...and stay away. There was a moment of hesitation as everyone looked at each other a little. Some guys started to roll through and I chucked in my effort as I felt more than happy for a group of this size to go away. It was at this point, when I was pulling through, that I realised how good I was going. Many of those around me, including a lot of the favourites, were hurting. Unfortunately we never really got organised and 5km after the climb - on the flat - we more or less came to a standstill and the majority of the peloton came back together. No problem, I thought, I still have three more chances to make the front group and after that last effort up the hill, I now really believed the race was going to be decided by a group of 7 to 10 riders going away over the next three laps and staying away to the finish. It seemed too hard for just a couple of riders to stay away, especially if there were a few others chasing and rolling through to the finish.
I waited till the next time around. Bettini attacked up the climb and Vino (Vinokourov) followed. I jumped in at 6th or 7th wheel as the pace was forced to the very top end. I was hurting but I just had to follow the wheel to the top of the climb, saying to myself that the pain will only bite at me for a short time while the glory of success would last forever. Gasping for air at the top and thinking that I couldn't follow much more, I rolled through best I could and