Cycling: Dean questions Olympic omission

By Michael Brown

Julian Dean. Photo / NZ Herald
Julian Dean. Photo / NZ Herald

Seven-time Tour de France veteran Julian Dean has accepted his omission from the New Zealand cycling road race team for the London Olympics but questioned the reasons he missed out.

Greg Henderson and Jack Bauer were named to contest the men's road race ahead of Dean and Hayden Roulston with Henderson favoured largely because he's racing in the upcoming Tour de France and Bauer because of his time trialling ability.

Dean's chances of racing at a fifth Olympics were dealt a severe blow when he broke his leg racing in March but he was confident of not only being fit in time but also performing well.

"I still feel that I am going to be ready in time and I would be perfectly capable on that London circuit doing as good a performance - or if not better - as anyone else," the 37-year-old wrote on his website. "And although sharing this view with BikeNZ, coupled with my Olympic and world championship experiences, and of course my 16-year professional career history, it was still not enough to sway them.

"Although disappointed not to be at my fifth Olympics, from some aspects I can understand BikeNZ's standpoint and I accept their decision. What I find difficult to understand are their reasons behind their selections.

"Partly basing selection criteria on riding the Tour de France is, in my view, a risk. We have very few riders who have had Tour de France experience or even a lot of Grand Tour experience, for that matter. The likelihood of finishing the Tour and being able to compete at your best five days later is a big risk and, for those inexperienced with riding a Grand Tour, their recovery after such a gruelling three weeks is an unknown and unpredictable quantity."

A number of riders in the peleton, including Olympic favourite Mark Cavendish, Fabian Cancellara and Oscar Freire, are expected to pull out of the Tour de France after two weeks to prepare for the Olympics. Henderson will be under strict team orders and won't have the luxury to withdraw like some of the sport's biggest names.

Dean, who was named as a reserve for the Olympics along with Roulston, also questioned Bauer's inclusion in the team at the expense of a second road race rider capable of winning a bunch sprint.

"With regard to selecting riders based on their time-trial capacity, it is the first time BikeNZ has ever shown interest in the time trial and, to be honest, the only world-class time trialler we have is Jesse Sergent," Dean wrote.

Sergent will lead the team's pursuit combination on the track.

BikeNZ high performance director Mark Elliott said it was tough leaving out riders of the calibre of Dean and Roulston.

"It was a difficult decision but a good one to make," he said. "We have four guys on the world stage performing very well on the pro tour. You could have run team permutations any way."

- APNZ

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