Thor, Julian and Julian's son Tanner. Photo copyright Roadcycling.com.
Julian Dean Diary
2006 Tour de France - Victory in Paris.
2006 Tour de France - Victory in Paris
For me personally, Thor's victory couldn't have come at a better time. After feeling the pressure of a failed first week in the sprints at the Tour, to come up good for the King sprint stage of the Tour de France was just perfect.
I started the day with a particularly good feeling. Something inside of me knew that it was going to be a great day for us. Maybe it was the fact that I was going to be seeing Carole & Tanner for the first time in almost a month or just that I was about to finish the Tour de France again - I dunno - probably a combination. But for whatever reason, I knew that the last stage was going to be special. Victory or no victory. I had rolled through the previous day's Time Trial easily, feeling really comfortable on the bike with good sensations in the legs. Both of which were positive signs for the coming day.
As is customary with the final stage of the TDF, we rolled out easy, letting the race start proper once we got to the Champs Elysees . Although it was nice just to cruise along for the first 90 km , I wanted it to be a little faster so we could get to the finish and I could see Tanner and Carole. At the same time however, I didn't want to be subject to more unnecessary suffering so I took the time to enjoy the spectators and ambience as we weaved our way through the streets of Paris toward the Eiffel Tower; knowing that soon enough I would be with my family and I just had one more job to do.
In honour of one of the great legends of the sport before and during my era, we let Ekimov be the first rider on to the centre stage - the Champs Elysees . It was possibly his last Tour and for a rider of his greatness, it seemed the least we could do. For me, I felt honoured to be able to share this with a friend and hero of mine. Although he didn't win the most races or the biggest races all of the time, he is still held in such high regard and that?s an inspiration. I think it's more because of the kind of character he is than anything else? He?s been a selfless, loyal, consistent, hard bastard and no-frills bike rider who has been endlessly dependable? A true champion. The peloton will certainly miss him?and his stories.
The laps up and down the Champs Elysees on the last day of the Tour de France are never as easy as they look on tv. The cobbled road and the false flat uphill toward the Arc de Triomphe make for very hard riding. You actually end up suffering a lot as you battle the whole 8 laps for position. Certainly if the Champs Elysees was a nice hot mix surface, it would be a lot more