CSC ‘on top of the world’ |

CSC ‘on top of the world’

PLATEAU DE BEILLE, France – The 2004 Tour de France has been like a roller coaster for Glenwood Springs’ Bobby Julich.After two weeks of thwarted aggression, utter frustration, violent crashes and near misses, the 32-year-old and his CSC teammates put on a masterful display of strength and tactics Friday and Saturday high in the Pyrenees Mountains.”Today was the biggest victory for the team this season,” said Julich after Italian teammate Ivan Basso claimed victory in the Tour’s 12th stage on Friday, just ahead of Lance Armstrong. “We have been really aggressive in the race so far, and it paid us back today.”With morale running high, Basso then rode to second place Saturday here at Plateau de Beille, proving he’s the only man who can hang on to Armstrong’s wheel when the five-time Tour champion attacks on a steep climb. The Italian is now third overall, 1 minute, 39 seconds down on race leader Richard Voeckler of France.But for Julich, personal aspirations in this Tour disappeared Saturday. He suffered a flat tire early on – then a crash, injuring his right hand. Already recovering from two tumbles during the Tour’s first week, he was able to finish the stage; but he lost more than 46 minutes. Team CSC sources said the American rider would undergo X-rays later in the evening. An announcement as to whether he’ll continue was not made.Regardless, Julich can rest assured he’s already performed his primary role splendidly. The 32-year-old was instrumental Friday on the first-category Col d’Aspin in support of Basso.”Postal was setting a brutal pace up the Aspin. There were guys really struggling there; you could see Ullrich in pain, Tyler, too,” said Julich, who began his cycling career on the roads of Garfield, Pitkin and Eagle counties. “We had our guys in good position, and the descent down the Aspin was dangerous.” When the climbing attacks came later, on the climb to La Mongie, Julich had the wherewithal to finish ahead of Ullrich, just two minutes and 28 seconds behind Basso.”It was fun to be somewhat in the front of a mountain stage of the Tour de France again,” Julich told reporters. “One thing is for sure, CSC is on top of the world right now and all we have to do now is try to stay there all the way to Paris.”Basso, meanwhile, now has a realistic shot at the final podium in Paris, and Team CSC now will focus 100 percent on supporting him. After all, he was the Tour’s “best young rider” in 2000″ and is now, perhaps, one of Italy’s brightest cycling stars.”In my opinion he and Armstrong are this Tour’s absolute strongest climbers,” said CSC Director Bjarne Riis, who won the 1996 Tour. “Now our goal is the podium, and the way things are looking right now, I think, it’s within reach.” For more on Julich, his life and career, visit his Web site: more on Julich, his life and career, visit his Web site:

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