Julian Dean Diary
Part one of a two part story!
It?s taken me a little while to get around to writing something about the Worlds. I think it?s because I have pretty mixed emotions about my result and when I sit down to write my diary, it?s a personal reflection on my performance vs. my result and sometimes that takes a few days for me to want to explore in depth.
The Worlds had been the only thing in my cycling brain since I crashed and have been on the comeback trail. It?s what has gotten me through the hours on the wind-trainer and through the many grovelling moments in racing and training. It was a hugely difficult effort to come back from my injury to reach the World Championships with the form I achieved in such a short period of time. I guess the important thing though is that I managed to do it. I worked hard and sacrificed a lot. Probably more than anyone else in the race. So to finish in 9th place was a fine result and I?m proud of it. Sure, it?s not a medal and to most people 9th means squat and I think that any athlete who works as hard as I did and knows that they couldn?t have possibly done any more, feels a little disappointed when they don?t place on the podium. But I have to go beyond the result and look more at my performance - the way I raced - to appreciate how well I rode. The days following the Worlds have allowed me to do this which is also why I haven?t written sooner.
Before the race I had a plan. In the weeks before actually, I had a plan. Although everyone had been talking about the race finishing in a sprint and one for the sprinters, after having checked out the course twice in the months leading up to the race, I had other ideas. We predicted that it would be a group of 30 or so coming to the line. I based my training on this and decided before the race that if I had the capacity in the final kms and they tried to attack, I would follow. Especially the strong guys like Vino and Bettini. I certainly didn?t want a repeat of the Olympics where I chose not to follow Bettini and he won. If I believed I had the legs this time, I would follow and there would be no hesitation.
During the race, I chose to just wait, wait and wait some more. At times it felt like a long day and often I had moments of doubt as to how I was feeling. Sometimes I just wanted to get up there to see how the legs were. But I held back and with three laps to go I moved closer to the front. Just as I got there a group went away with many of the good guys including three Spanish, Bettini and Davis. It was 60km to go and I made the choice not to follow this one. I?m not sure why but it just didn?t feel right. It was too early, too many good guys and the race just hadn?t seemed hard enough yet for a break to stay away. It got out to two minutes then it started to come back on the second to last lap. I remained tight near the front of the group, keeping a close eye on things waiting for another move. Once we brought in the breakaway, nothing much happened. Aussie started to ride tempo and the race seemed all under control.
Actually, up till this point, it hadn?t even seemed all that hard and I was getting ready for a bunch kick. Despite the fact that I saw many riders going backward on all the hard parts of the circuit, they always seemed to come back and this was the way that I thought it was going to be for the finish.
As we passed through park and the longer easier climb I stayed in the top ten. I knew that on the next climb, if anyone was going to try, it would be there and that I had to take my chance. That was what I had been preparing for. I was especially keeping an eye on Vino; he had been quiet and calm all day, he looked good and I was expecting him to try something. Sure enough heading into the harder, shorter, steeper climb of the circuit with only 10km to go until we would know who would don the rainbow jersey, he attacked. Not at all surprisingly, Bettini immediately followed and then it was me. For the first time in the race I was hurting and having to suffer. I was up on them and then Bettini hit right over the top of Vino. I was still tight with them and by now we were a small group of riders - all of who had the same idea. As we crested the climb to the false flat, it became apparent that there wasn?t much cohesion within the group. I wanted us to work together to try to stay away. To me it seemed to make the most sense. After all, we had a peloton behind us with all the best sprinters in the World and we were fluffing around not working together. A few individuals attacked but nothing serious and on all occasions all the riders in our group of 7 or so were able to follow. I did my best to try and work within the group. Every time we regrouped after a failed attack from one of the other riders, I would go through to the front for a turn to try to get the group working. But no-one else jumped on that game plan and our group remained a bunch of soloists. I was a little frustrated. We were 5km away from having a crack at the World title and everyone thought that they could do it by themselves while the peloton, full of the World?s best sprinters and lead-out guys, was fast bearing down on us from behind.
Finally, after numerous pulls at the front, I cracked on the final 200m smack when Bettini attacked again. I tried to follow but I could hardly turn the pedals. The climb was short - only 250m or so - but I was giving it everything I had. I was in a World of hurt and could do nothing as I tied up trying to follow. I came back a little at the top and thought that I was going to get back on so I tried an extra bit but it wasn?t enough.
On the small downhill that followed, I gapped off even further and I began to swing in ?no man?s land?.
On the false flat up to the leaning towers at the top of the start/finish straight, I was in the worst place possible. I was off the back of the break away, I could see Vino off the front solo and I could sense the peloton coming from behind. I just didn?t know what to do. Should I wait for the peloton or keep going to try and catch the group from which I had been dropped, hoping that they would at some point ease a little which would allow me to get back on...
To be continued....