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Interview with Bobby Julich
 
By Jaime Nichols
Date: 6/2/2004
Interview with Bobby Julich
 

The Daily Peloton caught up with CSC's resurgent American bike racing hero in downtown Philadelphia today at the Wachovia Cycling Series press conference. Julich's 2004 season has been his best in the five years since he stood on the podium in the Tour de France in 1998. Since then, he's ridden for Cofidis and done yeoman's work for Jan Ullrich on the Telekom team, but this season, it looks like he may have some opportunities to ride for himself, and one of those opportunities comes this Sunday at the Wachovia US Pro Championships.


Bobby at the press conference yesterday. Photo by Jaime Nichols.

After that, Julich will return to racing in Europe, and his team will make the determination of whether or not Julich will ride the Tour de France following their ride at the Tour de Swiss. If Julich is chosen, he will be one of four American contenders at the Tour, joining Phonak's Tyler Hamilton, Rabobank's Levi Leipheimer and of course, Lance Armstrong.

Can Armstrong be beaten? Julich's answer was short and to the point: "No." But, Julich had a lot more to say about how he'll ride the US Pro on Sunday, and what makes CSC such a strong team.

With both you and Jakob Piil as guys who can definitely win on Sunday, and a really strong team, how do you see the CSC Team strategy taking shape?

First of all, we want to win the race. That's the most important thing for our sponsor, CSC, so if necessary, I'll have to put my personal ambitions aside a little bit. Obviously, I'd love to win the jersey, so the thing I have to make sure of is that I mark the best American. Jakob can win the race, that doesn't bother me at all; the thing that I want is to wear the stars and stripes jersey for a whole year.

This weekend we have Bijarne Riis coming, and you know, he's our master tactician and our leader, and I'm sure he'll have a game plan as to how we're going to do it, and how we can make that happen. The bottom line is that you've got to have really good legs right at the end of the race, and you have to make the right move. Yesterday I had really good legs, but I made my move a little early. It's really hard to be patient, especially when there's so much on the line, but in this race there are dire consequences, you know? Either you win the jersey, or you don't, and to me, that's my ultimate goal here. I don't necessarily have to win the race as long as I have a chance at the jersey.

This has been an amazing year for you, and you've said many times that the change to the CSC Team has made all the difference for you. What is it about the team that's helped you come back up to this level?

It's just the overall morale and the overall attitude that the team has - the organization and the leadership that we have. With our team values, which are communication, teamwork, commitment and loyalty, as well as respect - I mean, those are just five words that you would never hear any other team talk about.

One thing that blew me away, and just really let me know that I had made the right decision in joining CSC is that Bijarne started talking, at the first meeting, about life after cycling, and how he wanted us to take what we learned here from a competitive aspect, and take these values and use them towards the future, and I've never heard those words come out of any other director's mouth.

Also, I obviously feel much more at home here. I've been on French teams for five years, a German team for two years, and here, the official language is English. At first, I wondered why I felt so comfortable right away, and then it just hit me that there are no communication problems on this team, and that's what I think our strongest suit is. I mean obviously we're going to have good days and bad days, and times where things don't roll our way, but with good communication, you get through those periods. So much of the controversy in the sport is due to miscommunication, and for me, personally, I just really need that for me, and being an American on a French team for five years, it was difficult to get that communication going my way.

You've had some really dry years since your big result in the Tour de France. What was that like for you? How was your motivation?

It was a very, very difficult time, but what I've always felt was this confidence that once I found a place that would allow me to focus all my energy on biking, I'd be able to get back to the level that I was at. That frustration, the frustration of being an American, being somewhat of a perfectionist, and also, wanting to try new things didn't work with some of the philosophies of the teams that I was on. Their thinking was always, "Well, we've done it this way for twenty years or thirty years, and we should keep doing it that way," but the bottom line is that this sport changes year to year, month to month, and even day to day, and you gotta keep up with the Joneses in that respect. So that was very frustrating to me, and I lost a lot of energy worrying about things like that. I probably wouldn't have worried about it so much if I wasn't getting paid to get such a big result.

You must have been under a lot of pressure, as well...

Yeah, but it wasn't so much the pressure as much as it was the frustration, of not being able to do the things that would really help me do what I needed to do. That was the toughest part.

Well, you've got a lot of support out there. The Daily Peloton has a message board, and our readers have been really excited about seeing you do so well this year.

Oh, that's great. Especially here in Philadelphia there are a lot of people I've touched bases with over the last seven seasons of living here in the Manayunk area, so I think I'll have quite a bit of support out there. I know there are some true fans out there, and you'll see them all out there on Sunday - I've got a special little gift for them on Sunday.


Julich and Mike Creed yesterday at Lancaster.
Photo by Scott Schaffrick.
Click for larger image.

 
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