He's now 34 years of age but Bobby Julich appears to be as strong as ever. This was evident after he won the prologue of this year's Paris-Nice recently; the American told Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes that despite not getting any younger, there are new goals and targets for 2006.
The afternoon of March 6 saw Bobby Julich storm to victory in the prologue of Paris-Nice, taking up where he left off 12 months previously by again wearing yellow at this early-season ProTour race. That and his third place overall in the Tour of California show that he's already in strong form, yet with the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France on this year's race programme, he had actually counted on a slower start to the season.
"It [the prologue win] was a total surprise," he admitted. "So too in California, where I almost won the prologue there. I had a couple of years where no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't ever get a result - but now they almost seem to be coming all by themselves."
Julich had ended the 2004 season early and, after a break, began training hard in December. This time round, a later end to his race programme in 2005 plus bad weather at home near Reno meant that it was January before he really started to knuckle down. Yet performance tests held on the climb of Monte Serra at the CSC training camp in Tuscany, plus the data from his SRM power meter showed that he was in similar shape to the start of 2005, despite having done less miles. That good form has continued into his early races.
Julich told Cyclingnews at the CSC Italian training camp earlier this year that he is aiming to be in peak condition for May. He has a specific aim in mind. "I would like to be as good as I can at the beginning of the Giro, because I'd like to take a little bit of the pressure off Ivan [Basso] and go for the leader's jersey myself," he says. "I think the team time trial and the 52 kilometre time trial will help with that goal. It would be great to have the jersey within the team, without Ivan having to have it on his shoulders for the whole three weeks. Unless things really change, then, in those last few days when the race really gets tough, I won't be able to go up those sort of mountains [with the best]. So then Ivan takes over and we're all happy."
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