Cycling: Dean confirmed for Tour de France

New Zealand's most decorated road cyclist, Julian Dean, will start in next month's Tour de France.

The 34-year-old learned the news today from his Garmin-Slipstream team at his home in Spain.

It will be Dean's fifth start in cycling's most celebrated race, the most by any BikeNZ cyclist, and his second for Garmin Slipstream after previously riding for Credit Agricole.

This included the 2007 performance where sprinter Thor Hushovd labelled Dean "the best lead out man in the world".

Dean will return to that role this year as the main lead out rider for up-and-coming American sprinter Tyler Farrar.

"I won't have quite the same freedom as last year as my main goal will be the lead-out for Tyler," Dean said. "We are an American-owned team and Tyler is their real star for the future.

"He is the only rider to have beaten Mark Cavendish this year although it's only been once from 15 sprints against him.

"I was pretty confident of making the team for the Tour but it's always good to get that call."

Dean said he was delighted with his form in the recent gruelling three-week Giro d'Italia, which showed he will go into his fifth Tour de France in top shape.

"There were a lot of benefits for me from the Giro. It was certainly really tough this year in the extreme heat. I really came back strongly in the final week that showed I had not over-done things. "Last year I went in to it after an injury and was pretty exhausted and struggled. This time I was strong at the end and all of the testing and my recent times show that I am right up with my best form."

The route for this year's Tour is significantly different again, with no time bonuses in the first week before the riders head to the Pyrenees. The Tour finishes up with some of the toughest climbs including the infamous Mont Ventoux on the penultimate day.

"It is going to be quite strange. Whoever wins the opening time trial, which is likely to be Fabian Cancellara in his current form, will likely hold it until we get into Andorra."

Dean said his Garmin-Slipstream team is stronger than last year and was getting used to the team lead out approach for sprinter Farrar rather than the solo approach he has employed in his years with Credit Agricole.

"The train system is probably better overall but it is more difficult because everyone in the train has to do their job perfectly. If one does not do it right, then it wrecks the whole train. We worked hard on it during the Giro and it is getter better.

"As we always know with the Tour de France, anything can happen to anyone at any time, so hopefully I will be able to take my chances if they present themselves."

Fellow Beijing Olympian Hayden Roulston is also hopeful of selection for the Tour, with his Cervelo Test Team expected to name the final nine riders this week.

- NZPA


- NZ Herald

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