Veteran Julich keeps spirits up
CHARTRES, France – Glenwood Springs’ Bobby Julich has seen plenty of adversity in his 14-year professional cycling career.And following a dark day for the team Wednesday, the five-time Tour de France veteran is using his experience to keep his teammates – sponsored by CSC and ranked No. 1 in the world – focused on success.Julich said it was important for the team to lift its head despite their frustrating fifth-place finish in the team time trial.”Our team morale is still good and we are looking forward to the next week before we get to the meat of the race in the mountains,” Julich said before the start of the 2004 Tour’s fifth stage in Amiens.After all, Julich won the Tour’s team time trial in 2001, when he raced with French Credit Agricole; and his time-trial prowess in 1998 as part of the French Cofidis squad led to his placing a third-overall finish in that year’s Tour.Following Wednesday’s soggy, windy, crash-filled contest, Julich was using past successes to refocus his teammates’ attention.”Probably the second-best ever memory for me as a cyclist was winning the team time trial,” said Julich, “It was something the whole team shared, something that the personnel can share; it was a really good feeling. It wasn’t a one-day thing; it lasted until this day. I still feel very proud of it.”Thursday’s 200.5-kilometer ride took the Tour peloton from northern France through the L’Oire region, across the Seine River near Paris and on to the ancient city of Chartres, known for its majestic cathedral. With only one official climb, the course was a rolling, twisty affair; and with the relentless wind and rain, it was perfect for a small breakaway to succeed.So, despite the poor conditions, Julich and company sent Jakob Piil attacking early, joining four other riders. The dashing Dane – winner of the Paris-Tours World Cup race in 2002 and a stage of last year’s Tour – ultimately came within a bike length of victory, taking second place behind Australia’s Stuart O’Grady.”I got in the wrong position for the sprint,” said Piil, who was forced to make his sprint on O’Grady’s inside wheel up against the race barriers. “It was really too bad. I felt strong and I knew it would come down to O’Grady or me.”Piil’s hard work again Thursday – his third effort off the front during this Tour’s first week – not only vaulted him into fifth place overall, at 6:58, it launched Team CSC into first place in the team classification, one of the team’s major priorities this year. Their main rivals for that prize – Lance Armstrong’s U.S. Postal Service and Tyler Hamilton’s Phonak – are now far behind in fifth and sixth places respectively, at 10:41 and 11:54.Things still look pretty good for Team CSC, which remains intact with nine strong riders, six of whom reside in the top 40 overall. Julich, now a minute down on Armstrong, is 23rd overall at 10:35; German Jens Voigt is 16th (10:18); Kurt-Asle Arvesen of Norway is 25th (10:39); Italian Ivan Basso is 31s (10:52); and Carlos Sastre of Spain is 40th (11:57).As for the rain, Julich said he and his teammates are not all that bothered by it.”We ride and train in rain all year, so it’s not that big of a deal,” he said. “But it’s always tricky.””We ride and train in rain all year, so it’s not that big of a deal,” he said. “But it’s always tricky.”
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This decision is part of a game plan to focus on giant slalom and slalom in the early part of season. Shiffrin will likely also pass on a speed stop in Val d’Isere from Dec. 18-20.