Julian Dean will close the curtain on his illustrious racing career in Christchurch, New Zealand in two weeks. The most successful cyclist to come out of New Zealand, has decided to retire from the sport after 17 years as a professional. He will trade two wheels for four as he takes moves into an assistant sport director role within ORICA-GreenEDGE.
“It is not the way I had envisaged finishing off my career,” noted Dean. “I thought hard about another season. ORICA-GreenEDGE were great to offer me another chance to ride, but it is the right time, and team has given me an opportunity to begin a new career in team management.”
Dean, 38 next month, has 20 Grand Tours (Giro d’Italia, Tour de France, Vuelta a España) to his name. He has scored two Grand Tour stage wins, more than 12 top-ten finishes at Tour France and earned a reputation as one of the best lead-out-men in the business.
“I’ve had a great career in this sport,” Dean said. “It’s given me so much and given my wife Carole and our boys a tremendous opportunity to experience life in Europe.”
“The sport is in a very good place,” he continued. “With all WorldTour riders part of the programmes such as the biological passport, it has the most comprehensive anti-doping system in the world. This encourages me and is one of the reasons that I have decided to remain in the sport I love because I firmly believe the future is bright.”
Dean takes pride in having a hand in growing the popularity in his country.
“When I first started, you never saw the Tour de France even on television news here,” he recalled. “Now you can see every stage live. I’ve been blessed to get a lot of support from the New Zealand public.It’s been a real honour.”
Dean rose to prominence in the United States in 1997 and over the next 15 years rode for a number of Pro Tour teams in Europe. He honed his skills as a lead out sprinter and was labeled by Tour de France green jersey holder Thor Hushovd as the best in the World. Dean competed in four Olympics and one Commonwealth Games, winning a medal on the track in the team pursuit in Victoria in 1994.
Career highlights include a 2011 Tour de France stage win and three podium stage finishes in 2010, a stage win in 2008 at the Giro d’Italia, twice top-ten at the World Championships and 15th in the Athens Olympic road race.
Known for his grit, Dean overcame a number of major injuries sustained while racing. He broke his leg twice in 2002 and 2012 and endured major elbow reconstruction in 2005 before recovering to finish in the top-ten in the World Championships. Dean and Spain’s Oscar Freire were shot by an air riffle during the 2009 Tour de France. Despite the freak incident, he managed to complete the final ten days of the race with a slug nestled deeply within the massively swollen tip of his index finger.
Dean’s leadership qualities combined with his mental toughness appealed to ORICA-GreenEDGE who signed the Kiwi as a rider with the intention of converting him to management upon retirement.
“We were fortunate to have the experience of Julian for his final competitive year in what has been an outstanding career,” said General Manager Shayne Bannan. “Toughness is a word you think of when you describe Julian and it has been an attribute that has made him one of the most respected on the scene.”
“In 2013, Julian will have a role in the Team as an Assistant Sport Director and mentor,” Bannan continued. “We are excited that Julian has accepted this role and believe that he will provide another level of professionalism to the way that we can help our riders.”
Dean competes in the Jayco Herald Sun in Melbourne next week as a build up to the national championships in Christchurch on Sunday 13 January before returning to Spain to begin his new life off the bike and behind the wheel for ORICA-GreenEDGE.