Glenwood’s Julich geared up for Tour
As the world fixates on Lance Armstrong and his bid for a record sixth-consecutive Tour de France title, Glenwood Springs native Bobby Julich is quietly taking his place among the 180 starters.The third-place Tour finisher in 1998, behind Marco Pantani and Jan Ullrich, Julich, 32, is racing his seventh Tour with a new team, the Danish-based Team CSC. And while Julich enters the three-week race (beginning Saturday in Liege, Belgium) in a support role with the team, Julich’s recent results suggest he could regain his form as a contender. Julich was third in the prestigious Paris-Nice race this spring.”My role on the team is very important,” Julich told http://www.roadcycling.com in a June 30 interview. “I’m one of the most experienced guys, I’ve been on the podium, I’ve won the team time-trial, so I know a lot of the day-to-day tricks, little things here and there to help you save energy.””I’m not putting any pressure on myself regarding the GC (general classification), ’cause first of all I’m there to help [Ivan] Basso and [Carlos] Sastre. Then we’ll see how the race develops.””The main goal is to get a rider on the podium,” Julich continued. Former CSC racer Tyler Hamilton, the 2003 third-place finisher, “came close last year and with Basso, Sastre, [Jens] Voigt and myself able to go for the GC, we have as good a chance as everyone to get a rider on the podium. Second on the list is winning the team time-trial.”
Julich, a 1990 graduate of Glenwood Springs High School, has been riding professionally since 1992. Now, he lives in Philadelphia and France, spending about nine months of the year overseas.He got his start in bike racing at age 14, in 1985. After dabbling in triathlons, Julich approached his dad, Bob senior, about pursuing cycling seriously.”Bobby said, ‘Dad, you know I really don’t like swimming and running, I could take it or leave it. But I really like cycling,'” Julich’s mom, Bernadette, of Glenwood Springs, said Thursday. “So his dad went to go see old Charlie Tarver at the Hub of Aspen, and Charlie told us about this race, the Red Zinger Mini Classic, in Boulder.”Considering Julich had never raced before, and that the seven-day stage race featured many seasoned racers Julich’s age, Bernadette and Bob Sr. weren’t expecting much.”But that’s when we discovered he had a real gift,” said Bernadette, a grants specialist for Colorado Mountain College, “because in the seven day race, he won his age category. And for a kid of 14, that was a big deal.”And that’s when his father and I looked at each other and said, ‘Oh boy, we’re in trouble,’ because the next couple years we had to juggle expenses to get him to races all over the state and beyond.”
Julich committed himself to cycling thereafter. In 1990, in order for Julich to graduate with his class, his parents went before the RE-1 school board seeking an exemption for all of Bobby’s absences due to cycling conflicts.”He did miss a lot of school,” Bernadette said, “but the school board was very open to it. They voted it was OK for him to go ahead with his career, and that’s how he got to graduate with his class.”Bernadette doesn’t plan to make the trip to France to watch her son firsthand. “But if there’s a chance that he’s going to be up on the podium, we’ll be jumping on a plane,” she said.Julich told http://www.roadcycling.com that his switch to Team CSC, in late 2003, has helped him regain confidence.”I’d been lacking confidence the last couple of years, so I seemed unprepared,” Julich said. “Now the team has given me a lot more energy to focus on riding my bike.”
Bernadette said her son – and all the other riders – went through blood tests in Belgium on Thursday. And as doping scandals continue to dog the Tour, Bernadette said she hopes it is not a repeat of the 1998 Tour.”They’re already talking about having police raids like they did in 1998,” she said. “It’s like a horrible flashback. Believe, Bobby lived through that in ’98, and it was very demoralizing and tough to live through day to day.”In the meantime, Bernadette, like other Tour fanatics, will be glued to the Outdoor Life Network and the Internet for live coverage.”It’s going to be a very interesting Tour de France,” said Bernadette, who talks teams, contenders, strategy and course layout with the fluency of a seasoned Tour observer. “An individual time-trial on L’Alpe d’Huez – and on the 16th stage? Yikes. That’s just insane. But they’re trying to make it as hard as they can on Lance.”We’ll see.”
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