Glenwoods Bobby Julich rides to ninth place in Tour prologue
LIEGE, Belgium Bobby Julich returned to the Tour de France with vengeance Saturday.The 32-year-old American, a resident of Glenwood Springs for much of his life, set a blistering pace on 6.1km through the streets of Liege to take ninth place in the races opening prologue time trial. At one point before the favorites, such as Lance Armstrong and Jan Ullrich, took the course Julich held the second-fastest time, less than a second faster than fellow-American George Hincapie.It was a great showing for Julich, who rode all out to take virtually the exact same time as his fellow American George Hincapie of the U.S. Postal Service.Im in the form of my life, Julich told a television reporter at the finish line.Disaster almost struck mid-way through Julichs blistering time-trial effort when he almost went into the barriers lining the course.The only mistake I made on the course is that I slid out a little in the roundabout turn, other than I was going really good, he said.Julich, who graduated from Glenwood Springs High School, is having the best season of his cycling career since placing third overall in the Tour in 1998. He missed the worlds greatest bicycle race last year when his previous team, Telekom, did not select him.The prologue went well for me and I was happy to confirm that I am back and ready to do a good Tour, Julich said Saturday. To miss it last year was a big disappointment for me. Watching the Tour last year from my couch was painful.Julichs new team, sponsored by the California-based technology company CSC, is ranked No. 1 in the world. Managed by 1996 Tour winner Bjarne Riis of Denmark, they had strong showing Saturday, placing five riders in the top 20. Jens Voigt of Germany was seventh at 11 seconds; Spaniard Carlos Sastre took 14th, at 15 seconds; Kurt-Asle Arvesen of Norway was another second back for 15th; and Italian Andrea Peron was 20th, at 19 seconds.Our team as a whole did a great race and we are all looking forward to the upcoming stages, Julich said. We have to take it day by day and take advantage of our teams depth and strength if the opportunity arises. The Tour is nowhere close to being over, but starting off with a good result is always good for the morale.Riis, meanwhile, called the teams performance brilliant. The results show, that we with our diversity, are ready for a great Tour de France, Riis said. With five riders in the top 20 we have every reason to be satisfied with our start in this years Tour.For more on Julich, his life and career, visit his Web site: http://www.BobbyJulich.com
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