Tactic may deliver New Zealand road victory
Julian Dean may be a world-class sprinter, but in tonight's road race at the world championships in Limburg, Holland, he's looking to use different tactics to normal.
Dean, along with Hayden Roulston and Jesse Sergent, will be flying the flag for New Zealand in the 267-kilometre race and unlike at last year's world championships on a flat course in Copenhagen where Mark Cavendish was able to win a bunch sprint at the end of the race, this year's event is unlikely to come down to a sprint finish.
Just before the end this year comes the brutal Cauberg hill, which will knock out all the top sprinters and allow the punchy climbers like Philippe Gilbert, of Belgium, and Slovakia's Peter Sagan to power their way up it.
Dean, 37, knows that he'll stand no chance of competing with those riders if he waits for the race to explode up the Cauberg, so he intends to go off the front in an early attack.
If a breakaway does survive to the end, Dean should be able to make it up the Cauberg with the rest of those riders. His sprinting ability should see him win a sprint 1700m from the summit.
It is a long shot that the race will pan out like this, but few would have expected the Olympics road race to be determined by a breakaway a couple of months ago and realistically, it's the only way Dean would be able to grab that coveted rainbow jersey.
“It's certainly not a course that's ideally suited to me, but I think I've developed a bit over the years in terms of the rider I've become,” Dean told Sunday Star-Times.
“On some circuits you might try to wait until the final move near the finish, but it might be a case of looking to go earlier in the race and get a leg up at the end, rather than wait for the final move.
“That's because when the proper climbers start to go, it will be difficult with someone of abilities to follow, but if I can try to take advantage of a move earlier in the race, it would be a tactic I could use.”
Dean's tactic of trying to get into a breakaway is also the way Roulston and Sergent will ride, but rather than all three of the Kiwis trying to get into every break to see if it's the one that sticks, Dean says they'll need to work as a team.
“In terms of trying to secure an overall result for New Zealand, we definitely have a good team that's going to be capable on this course.”
Sunday Star Times