By Gregor Brown in Bourg-en-Bresse
The ultimate kilometres of the Tour de France sprints have seen a certain white and black jersey popping up to the front. The colours are of the New Zealand National Champion Julian Dean and he is up front for the purpose of Crédit Agricole team captain Thor Hushovd. The duo did their thing in Joigny with a stage win that showed that Hushovd has legs despite ongoing back pains.
"I will be working for Thor again today," noted Dean before the 199.5-kilometre run to Bourg-en-Bresse. The Kiwi was leading-out in the finale but he was unable to help Hushovd win and the Norwegian finished fifth. "He is not at one-hundred percent, he has a back injury. Yesterday, he slipped over and twisted his back and he is not feeling so great."
Dean continues to be happy with their win from stage four. "It was good," he continued to Cyclingnews. "Most of the guys were pretty impressed with the job I had done. It is good that Thor won because when you do such a good job and they don't win it is sometimes hard to stomach. Two days ago we were more that happy with how things went. We had sit down in the team meeting and tried to plan exactly how we would do it, and everything just went perfectly.
"At the moment we are trying to focus on taking another stage. We are thinking a little bit about the green jersey but it is not an objective at the moment. The thing with the green jersey right now is that everyone is so close. We are definitely not out of contention and it is not the absolute priority.
Dean faces many challenges in the final kilometres but surprisingly they don't come from the other sprinters. "I would say the GC men who are at the front trying stay out of trouble is the sort of thing that causes the most havoc. Guys like Levi [Leipheimer], [Andreas] Klöden... I understand that they want to stay out of trouble but sometimes they cause more danger by being up front in the last three kilometres.
"It is always difficult. The other day it was not too bad because we had a big run-in and there were big roads. In the last fifteen kilometres, there were no roundabouts or anything. It was just straight in... that was an advantage for us as well."
Dean and the other sprinters will be faced with several mountain days before they get another chance to crank up the pace. "I think it should be okay. There are a lot of sprinters here and there should be a good sized gruppetto."