Julian Dean has high hopes of a strong showing in this weekend's UCI World Road Race Championships. BikeNZ road coach Jacques Landry believes the lumpy course could suit the Garmin-Chipotle sprinter in the 260km race on Sunday.
The 15-lap course has two long climbs and Landry reckons it is likely to be too tough for the pure sprinters but not demanding enough to suit the climbers and therefore ideal for the power sprinters like Dean. The New Zealand champion competes on the back of some outstanding form in the Tour of Britain where he enjoyed five top-five finishes to place second overall in the points classification, behind Australian Matthew Goss.
Dean will be supported by US-based Glenn Chadwick, who comes off an overall win at the Vuelta Mexico. Fellow Olympian track rider Greg Henderson withdrew earlier today, not recovered from illness following the Tour of Britain.
Landry is hoping that France-based Tim Gudsell will be able to fill in the gap.
"Tim is keen to ride and has talked to Julian who told him his No 1 priority is to secure a pro team for next year. If he can tie up those negotiations in the next day, then he will head up here. It's only a one hour flight and he knows this area well."
Not for pure sprinters
The strong Italian and Spanish teams have not gone unnoticed by Landry. "They will be the two toughest teams and the riders that everyone will be watching. But there are 15 or 20 riders capable of winning this race."
Landry expects the first two hours to be relatively quiet before someone looks to break clear mid-race but the serious charge will come in the final one to two hours.
"There are two power climbs each lap and so I expect that the pure sprinters like Mark Cavendish will get dropped when the pace gets serious. Our hope is that Julian can hang in there up the climbs. If he does, then I am sure he can figure in this finish, along with the likes of Bettini and Freire."
Landry said he is not too concerned if the kiwis end up as a two-man team.
"The main job for Glenn is to support Julian over the first four hours of the race, and ensure he gets all the drinks and nutrition he needs. He did that job fantastically well in Beijing. From that point if he lasts then great but Julian is quite capable of looking after himself from there."
Women also looking strong
Landry also believes the women's team of Joanne Kiesanowski and mountain bikers Rosara Joseph and Kaytee Boyd are poised to do well, while the under-23 men's combination of Michael Torckler, Clinton Avery and Alex Meenhorst should acquit themselves well in today's race.
Joseph comes into the race after two outstanding finishes in the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, finishing second in Canberra and sixth in Austria, while Boyd (Auckland) has raced well for the New Zealand road squad in France.
"Jo is even more suited to this course than Beijing, and both Rosara and Kaytee will do well here. I think there might be 15 to 20 riders in the bunch going into the last lap, and I see no reason why all three of our team should not be there. It is our strongest group of females for several years."
Key figures include Olympic champion Nicole Cooke, 2004 winner Judith Arndt, time trial winner Amber Neben and 2006 champion Marianne Vos.