Julich goes out fightin’ | AspenTimes.com

Julich goes out fightin’

Stephen Lloyd Wood and Andy Hood

PARIS – Every year at the Tour de France there’s one saying repeated more than any other: “It’s a long way to Paris.”For Glenwood Springs’ Bobby Julich, the words were especially poignant this year.Crashing three times on the way – the most serious a freak spill in the Pyrenees that nearly resulted in a severely sprained right wrist – meant he spent most of the race’s 3,491 kilometers (2,164 miles), 105,000 feet of climbing and nearly 90 hours in the saddle suffering.”It’s just been a disappointing Tour for me because of crashes. I just tried to go out fighting,” Julich, 32, said before Sunday’s final promenade to the Champs Elysees.”Suffering on the bike I can deal with, but this Tour has taken me to a totally different level of suffering in terms of injury – and then trying to race, as well.”But race he did. Barely able to grasp his bicycle for much of the final week, Julich rode with abandon, nevertheless, in support of his young teammate, Ivan Basso, the only man at this year’s Tour strong enough to ride with Lance Armstrong in the mountains.The masterful support from Julich and the rest of Team CSC was key to the Italian’s winning the Tour’s epic 12th stage through the Pyrenees to La Mongie, as well as placing second to Armstrong the next day at La Plateau de Beille.The 26-year-old “revelation” had climbed his way into third place overall in Paris, becoming the first Italian to stand on the Tour’s final podium since Marco Pantani won the race in 1998.”I told Ivan before the race that the podium is an incredible view – and it’s yours if you want it,” said Julich, now a veteran of seven Tours.On Saturday, Julich stunned the cycling world by setting the time to beat in the Tour’s final time trial at Besancon. It ultimately was good enough for fifth place in the stage.”Who knows, maybe the Tour de France gods were smiling on me. I never expected to do that,” he said. “That’s what they teach you at CSC – just go out fighting. You never know.”Julich credited his teammates and staff for giving him the support necessary for such a recovery.”This is payment for the whole team believing in me,” he said. “I should have been out of the Tour two or three times because of my injuries, but they kept pulling me back.”Julich saved the biggest praise, however, for his team manager, Bjarne Riis. A former Tour champion himself, Riis saw great talent in the long, lanky American and has been key in putting him back on track.”Bjarne is the perfect leader, and Team CSC is a dream,” Julich said. “This is a great end of the Tour for me.”Check out http://www.bobbyjulich.com.

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