Julich relishing weekend challenge

Bobby Julich explains how he could have ending up spending the night on the floor with Jens Voigt to

Cycling : Team CSC 2005 

Equipe Ploeg
Bobby Julich explains how he could have ending up spending the night on the floor with Jens Voigt to

PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM “I am old and durable” said CSC’s Bobby Julich with a smile, as he basked in the attention of the European sports media, a million miles from the tormented, reclusive and often evasive figure that had become familiar to cycling’s press corps in the seven years since he first made his name with a third place finish in the 1998 Tour de France. Until he joined CSC two years ago, Julich had been written off by the majority of the cycling milieu as a has-been, who’d enjoyed his one moment of glory in 1998, in a Tour when many of the favourites had left the race halfway through, as the French drugs squad went about their work with near-evangelical zeal. That proved to be a heavy cross to bear and the pressure of demonstrating that he was no flash in the pan definitely took its toll on Julich. “I wasn’t ready for the pressure,” he admitted in a media huddle in the Toulon press room. “I lost morale. I lost confidence. It was my fault, not the team’s.” Now it seems, that as Lance Armstrong, a rival since the pair were teenagers racing in the US, stays waiting in the wings in Spain, Julich has moved to centre stage of the ProTour’s first event. With this new lease of life has come a refreshing humility and a realisation by Julich that, when all is said and done, being a pro bike rider is a fine way to earn a living. On the narrow and steep climb to Mont Faron, Julich suffered for his success. “I marked the attacks and stayed with them but I wasn’t good in the final 300 metres and I had to ride at my own pace,” he said. Before the start of the stage Julich had struck a pact with room-mate Jens Voigt: “I said to Jens, ‘If the yellow jersey isn’t in our room tonight, we both have to sleep on the floor.'” Now, Julich, who first learned about the character of the Cote d’Azur when watching Mark Allen race in the Nice Triathlon in the mid-1990s, hopes to defend his lead successfully through to Sunday afternoon. “We’ve got strong rivals for victory,” Julich said of his overall lead in the ‘race to the sun’, “with Constantino Zaballa, Alejandro Valverde and Jorg Jaksche, but – if we win – we want to have worked for it. But the drama is what makes bike racing so much fun, and such a pleasure.” How much fun the American may have defending his race lead against the Spanish climbing tandem of Zaballa and Valverde in the short sharp hills of the Var region this weekend is debatable. “It’s the first time I’ve raced against Valverde,” said Julich, “but what he did last year particularly is impressive. I’m a fan of his. He has huge class and looks to be the future of Spanish cycling.”