Monday, March 28, 2005

Look out, Lance

A couple of years ago American cyclist Bobby Julich was burnt out racing for Team Telecom. Well, look out, Lance, because that was then.

Yesterday, Julich smoked everyone in the World Criterium International time trial to win the race, three seconds over CSC teammate Jens Voigt.

TSN/OLN did the right thing this weekend and broadcast the event in Canada. Keep it up, guys!

If you tuned in, you got to see an hour-and-a-half of coverage from the second day of the two-day event. The first part of the coverage consisted of highlights from the road race, with the cyclists peddling over nine - count 'em! nine! - mountain passes. Julich, Thomas Dekker (not Eric, the veteran racer, as commentator Paul Sherwin mistakenly referred to him in the final moments of the program) Ivan Basso and Jorg Jaksche broke away from the pack two kilometres into the race, maintaining the lead for the distance.

Jaksche, riding for Liberty Seguros-Wurth, dominated all the climbs, actually putting Basso - a star performer on climbs in previous Tour de Frances - in trouble. But the quartet stayed together and in the last 1,000 metres Basso made a move, which Jaksche countered. At which point, Julich counter-attacked in a brilliant tactical move.

Incredibly, Jaksche had the legs to go after Julich, dragging Rabobank's Dekker - who at 22 years of age is making quite a name for himself - along. At the line, Dekker outsprinted Jaksche and won the stage - likely quite a piss-off for Jaksche, who had done most of the work throughout.

That same afternoon all the riders streaked over the eight-kilometre time trial course. For awhile it looked as if team Gerolsteiner's Levi Leipheimer would win the time trial, but then Jens Voigt turned in another blazing performance similar to his ride in Paris-Nice.

Voigt probably had a couple of minutes to bask in his ride when Julich shattered his time and won the Criterium.

Now with this and Paris-Nice under his belt in three weeks, Julich is starting to look like a serious contender for a Tour de France win. It will be worth watching the Tour of Flanders next Sunday to see how Armstrong is riding.

Coverage, with excellent Graham Watson photos, is here:


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