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Julian Dean's Olympic dream in jeopardy

Published: 7:29AM Sunday April 29, 2012 Source: Fairfax

Kiwi cycling star Julian Dean is the latest victim of a communications bungle in an Olympics year.

Dean believes he can still be selected for New Zealand's London Games team even if he doesn't recover from injury in time to race in his ninth Tour de France next month, a prospect he told the Sunday Star-Times was "50-50".

But Bike NZ has told the newspaper that Dean must compete alongside any other Kiwi riders in the Tour de France or it was unlikely he would be considered for selection at the Olympics.

That information is yet to be passed on to Dean despite the recent news publicity about his bid to ride in London for which he says he will be "100 per cent" fit.

The paper has emailed Dean the Bike NZ comments on its edict but he had not replied at deadline last night.

Last month, rising shot put star Jacko Gill withdrew from Olympic selection contention after feeling he was misled by administrators on qualifying standards.

Dean, New Zealand's top road cyclist and our only winner of a stage at the Tour de France, is recovering from an horrific crash at the Tour of Catalunya in Spain last month where he fell off his bike and slid underneath a car, crushing and breaking a leg.

Speaking to media on Thursday, Dean said his recovery had been going well and while he rated his chances of being able to ride for his GreenEdge team at the Tour de France, from June 30 to July 22, as being "50-50", he was certain he'd be fully fit for the Olympics road race on August 1.

But the prospect of the 36-year-old making a brave and emotional comeback in London will go the same way as Gill's Olympic bid unless he competes in the Tour de France.

Bike NZ high performance director Mark Elliott told the paper that if Dean didn't make it to France, it would jeopardise his selection for London.

Although it is not confirmed until June, it is likely there will only be two spots for New Zealand cyclists in the men's road race at the Olympics.

In order for Green Edge to select Dean for the Tour de France, he has to prove to them he is fit enough for the three-week stage race.

That means he'll have to ride in one of two upcoming European races, the Criterium du Dauphine or the Tour of Switzerland in early June.

On Thursday Dean was unaware of Bike NZ's hard-line stance and said he was putting together a "Plan B" for the Olympics if he could not race in the Tour de France.

That plan included competing at the Tour of Poland which takes place from July 10-16.

But Elliott was talking down Dean's chances of getting selected if he doesn't compete in the Tour de France, suggesting he would be disadvantaged in his Olympic preparation if he missed the event and other Kiwi contenders didn't.

"I have to have that discussion with [the] selectors but we have to look at what the other guys are delivering, how their preparations have gone, what races they've had and if they get that Tour de France start, is that going to set them to another level," Elliott told the paper.

"We're going to have those discussions with any of those riders [who make the Tour de France].

"I've highlighted who the riders are we're looking at, it's pretty clear they're the guys in the Pro Tour teams. [They are] getting the constant training and racing stimulus that you need to be in the hunt in a 260km race."

The riders Elliott referred to as being highlighted are Hayden Roulston, Greg Henderson and Jack Bauer. Like Dean, the trio are all members of elite Pro Tour teams, but only Roulston has ever ridden the Tour de France, in 2009.

The Olympic course in London has been designed to suit Britain's Mark Cavendish.

The 26-year-old "Manx Missile" is one of the greatest sprinters and he will have five other British riders guiding him around the 260km course and putting him in a perfect position to hit the front with 100m to go.

Dean is regarded as New Zealand's best chance of taking Cavendish on.