Julian Dean led the New Zealanders home in 35th place at the 260km men's elite road race at the UCI World Championships in Italy. Dean stayed with the big favourites of the race, including Paolo Bettini of Italy, the Spanish duo of Oscar Freire and Alejandro Valverde, as well as Belgium's Tom Boonen. Unfortunately for Dean, it was the group that didn't contend for the victory in the end.
Dean was intentionally staying with the favourites. Even BikeNZ national road coach Jacques Landry was surprised at the tactics of the big names. "Julian [Dean] decided wisely that he needed to mark the key riders Bettini and Freire but when the Italian lieutenants went up the road, the Spanish and Belgian teams did not chase them down," Landry said.
Dean was certainly hoping for a sprint of a bigger group in which he could be a factor. "It was a bit disappointing for Julian because he rode really well and had the legs today. He had to sit and wait but strangely for a big race like this, they let the lesser lights take the honours.
"When the final break came Spain and Belgium only had one rider each in the break and no-one else tried to ride it down. Had they done so, then it would have given Julian the chance to sprint it out."
In the end Dean had to settle to stay with the group of Bettini, with the latter celebrating Ballan's win down the finishing straight. "Julian's finishing position won't reflect his really good race. It was certainly quite a weird world championship, and the first for quite some years that the big names of the sport did not feature."
Fellow New Zealand Glen Chadwick dropped out after he lost time with a puncture. "As a small nation we were car number 28 in the support and it took quite a while for us to get to Glen. From that point he managed to finally rejoin but it was at the bottom of the climb when the heat finally went on at the front so he was on a hiding to nothing."
Other big names in that group that finished almost five minutes including defending world champion and favourite Paolo Bettini of Italy, three time winner Oscar Freire (Spain), Tom Boonen (Belgium) and Alejandro Valverde (Spain).