The former Team Sky and Tinkoff coach, who finished third overall in the 1998 Tour de France while riding for Cofidis, took the wheel to help long-time friend Thomas Craven guide the team through eight days of racing that Julian Alaphalippe (Etixx-QuickStep) won in Sacramento on Sunday.
"It's been interesting," Julich told Cyclingnews as he waited for the start of he Folsom time trial earlier in the week. "I've purposely stayed away from being a DS because I'm not the best driver and my navigational skills are for crap. I think Thomas saw that and said, 'OK, I'm going to throw him into the fire.' So I'm the one responsible for getting us to the starts and to the finishes and to the hotels.
"It's not my thing but it's been kind of interesting – and of course being in the team cars and seeing the guys. It's been fun being around these races again, being around old friends and learning new names, like this Nielson Powless [Axeon Hagens Berman's 19-year-old revelation who finished ninth overall in California – ed.] Obviously he's on everybody’s radar now."
Julich should know talent when he sees it. As a coach he's worked with some of the best. Following his own professional career, which ended in 2008, Julich worked with Saxo Bank, Team Sky, BMC Racing and Tinkoff, in succession. Julich parted ways with Tinkoff at the end of last season and will be returning to the US later this year.
"I've been in a little bit of a reset mode since leaving Tinkoff and looking toward the future," he said. "We're in the process of moving back to America from Europe. Our daughter starts high school this year, which is a big thing. We didn't want to be one of those parents that ripped their kids out of high school halfway through and give them a little bit of a challenge."
Julich said his week with the US Continental team was about helping out Craven with the many logistical challenges of an eight-day race rather than coaching or consulting the riders.
"These guys all have their own coaches and whatnot," he said. "I came here to basically help Thomas and provide any support that these guys wanted and answer any questions, but you don't want to get in the way, to come in for one race and try and change the world. So I'm here but I'm trying to stay out of that sort of thing. There's been no consulting as far as that goes."
Nevertheless, Julich said, he was open to considering a bigger role with the team as he sorts through his future plans.
"You never really know. We just recently bought a house down in Greenville [South Carolina]. It wasn't really part of the plan, but I've known [team owner] George and Rich [Hincapie] since I was very young. I've been great friends with Thomas for over 20 years now. So, yeah, we'll see," he said.
"I'm open to a lot of opportunities. I've got a lot of irons in the fire that I'm trying to decide and sift through. And once we finally finalize that move back from Europe – I'd say by the beginning of August we'll be all settled here and be able to commit to a fulltime project."
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Growing up in Missoula, Montana, Pat competed in his first bike race in 1985 at Flathead Lake. He studied English and journalism at the University of Oregon and has covered North American cycling extensively since 2009, as well as racing and teams in Europe and South America. Pat currently lives in the US outside of Portland, Oregon, with his imaginary dog Rusty.