In His Own Words: Julian Dean on Tour of Poland Stage 3

Sun 5 Aug 2012

Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma – QuickStep) sprinted to victory in Cieszyn to take the win on stage three of the Tour of Poland while Moreno Moser (Liquigas-Cannondale) successfully defended his overall lead. Daniel Teklehaimanot added to his points in the mountains classification and remains in the climber’s jersey after three stages. Julian Dean, road captain in Poland, describes the day in detail.

In terms of difficulty, today was sort of an intermediate stage. It was the type of course that wore riders down throughout the day. It was an open day for the team. Anyone who was feeling good had the option to get into a break or do something at the finish. We also wanted Dan to get a few more points for the KOM jersey if possible.

Fumy Beppu went up the road. His breakaway had over 18 minutes at one point, so things looked promising for him – and of course, it’s also good representation for the team to be in the escape group. With the break up the road, it meant less points available on the climbs, but Dan still managed to pick up points for the lesser spots. In those regards, it was a good day for the team.

We lost Tomas Vaitkust today, so we’re one rider short. He came into the race carrying a knee injury, and it had been progressively getting worse. There’s no point in aggravating anything at this stage. It’s better for him to go home and return to racing when he’s 100%.

Daniel is still in the climber’s jersey after three stages. He’s doing a good job holding onto it – and doing the team proud in the process. I can tell he enjoys the attention, and it’s good to see. He got a prize of a Festina watch with the first jersey, and he had a huge smile on his face when they presented it to him.

Personally, for me, I’m still adjusting to the return to racing. Today, I definitely felt the accumulation of fatigue in my legs from the last few days. This is to be expected.

There are two main difficulties for me to grapple with each day. There’s the physical aspect and the mental aspect. As much as I trained, it’s difficult to stimulate race conditions in training. I trained as well as I could, but the accelerations and decelerations I face in a race are unique to racing. They cause a lot of fatigue on the body, and I haven’t been through that in some time. I raced two days at the Tour of Catalunya, and other than that, until now, I haven’t had any racing in my legs for ten months.

It’s also a mental jump to return to racing. I have to get over the crash and find a way to overcome the fear that I’ll crash again. I need to readjust to feeling comfortable in the peloton. That takes time, too – and it’s not something to rush. It’s an extra challenge here in Poland where we’ve had some dangerous finish circuits with tight corners, traffic islands and cobbles. For me, the mental challenge is proving a bit more difficult than the physical challenge. I know I’ll overcome both with time.

Despite the challenges, I’m happy to be here with the team. We have a great team environment, and I’m proud to contribute to our achievements in our first year on the WorldTour. Every day I get through this race is a victory to me given what I have overcome. I’m taking it one day at a time and enjoying being back in the peloton again.