Former professional Bobby Julich has been a key part of Saxo Bank’s time trial training since his retirement last season and the former Olympic medallist has been helping the team prepare for today’s 39 kilometre team test in Montpellier.
Julich spent time in Luxembourg working with both of the Schleck brothers earlier in the year with the aim of improving their skills against the clock. That hard work has already paid off with younger sibling Andy performing well in individual tests in the Tour de Suisse (15th), as well as Sunday’s opening stage of the Tour (18th).
“It’s about spending time on the bike. There’s no magic pixie dust that can turn people into great time trialists. It comes down to hard work. What you’re seeing with some of the guys on the team, and especially Andy, is true progression. He’s taking it far more seriously and you could see that in the opening stage in Monaco. It goes to show that if you pay attention to the small details, like the warm-up, the training, the day before and your concentration, then you’ll perform,” Julich said.
Asked if Andy Schleck’s time trial progresson could hamper his prowess in the mountains, Julich made clear that it was a balancing act: “Of course we don’t want to mess with a good thing and Andy is one of the most naturally gifted riders in the world. I’m not going to ask him to put on five kilos in order to go fifteen seconds faster in a time trial just to see him lose two minutes on a climb.”
“He’s never going to look beautiful on a time trial bike. He’s not going to look like a Fabian [Cancellara] or Levi [Leipheimer], he doesn’t have the body for that, but he has to overcome that if he’s going to win the Tour de France. We’re on the right path and the second time trial should see him do a lot better as he seems to fatigue a lot less than some of the other contenders.”
With just a few hours before the start of the team time trial, Julich wouldn’t be drawn on his predictions for the stage but would reveal who he thought might be in yellow by the end of the stage:
“I hate to be biased but I think Fabian has a chance. I don’t think it’s sure thing, though. Columbia showed us yesterday that they can throttle it and with Tony Martin just 32 second down it’s going to be close. I think Columbia will beat Astana, but I think the gaps between the top teams are going to be pretty small. You won’t see two minutes separating the leaders.“