Julian Dean Diary
It occurred to me after writing the last entry that most of you probably don't understand the different styles of racing that go with each country we race in. The interesting thing about European cycling is that there are huge contrasts between how races are ridden depending on the country where the race is taking place. Without a doubt, each country in which we regularly race in has a style unique to it.
Of all the countries I?ve raced in, I like the style of racing in Italy the most. Generally, and I say, 'generally' because there are always exceptions to the rules, Italian races start relatively controlled - at least for the first hour, if not up until the halfway mark. Then the first attacks start to happen. Attacks usually start pretty much always after we have had an hour or more of rolling at 30-35km/hr to warm up ? a very civilized approach.
France is probably the worst for me. From km zilch it?s all on and the attacks come straight away. It?s an out-of-control cluster of efforts from everyone as an individual. I can never get involved in this part of the race as I always need time to warm up and get going so I spend the first part of French races biting my handle bar stem. By the halfway mark everyone is starting to get a little fatigued and often the pace has slowed a little so the race is more controlled. By the end, especially in a lot of the small races, the latter part of the race is often slower than the start. The big races in France, however, are often a little different, like the Tour or any of the World Cups.
Spain is another story yet again. The races are generally of a shorter distance and the starts are much like France - full noise, but instead of getting easier as the race progresses, the racing tends to be the same all
day; no matter if it?s a mountain stage or a flat stage, it?s always ?all go?. I reckon, from my point of view as a sprinter, this style of racing is the hardest. Especially given that they generally tend to have more mountainous races than any other country.
For all the other countries on the continent, it?s pretty much a mixture of the French, Italian and Spanish styles, depending on the make up of the field, i.e, whether there are mostly Italians, mostly Spanish or mostly French making up the peloton.
Aside from racing styles, Germany is always good to race in as it generally has the best hotels. As far as food goes, Italy kicks arse over all other countries, hands down. Although Belgium is where I tend to gain weight and that?s only because they have fifty million kinds of grainy-types of bread, which you don?t really get in the other main cycling countries and so I tend to eat my yearly quota in just over a few weeks during the Spring Classics. Gotta really knock that habit on the head?.
As for this ?twisted sister?, we?ve just done stage 5. Yesterday?s stage 4 was hard. The hardest so far. I was dropped early but there were 40 or so guys dropped before me so relatively speaking, it wasn't too bad a day for me. Although I think that there are a lot of guys here who are struggling
on the climbs (more than at most races), I?m probably just going ?normal? for me ? not flying but not completely sucking either. If look at who is on the front, I know that I?m capable of being there as well. Anyway, the fact that there are 40 or so guys dropped before me most days makes me feel better. It?s good to have a big group to ride in to the finish with.
We are counting down the stages now with only 2 left. All in all, I haven?t been feeling myself on the bike. I reckon that I?m going ok but just not able to produce all the power I?m capable of due to the biomechanic problem I?m having on my bike. My next objective after this race is to get this sorted out before it causes a major injury. I?ve had a serious injury before caused by incorrect bike position and it was a bloody nightmare that took over a year to solve. It was a frustrating time and I don?t want to have to deal with that sort of hassle again?.