Julian Dean is the only Kiwi cyclist in this year's Tour de France and he talks to msn.co.nz about shaving his legs, drugs in cycling and how much he hates airports.
Full name: Julian Carl Bucsh Dean
Nickname: Julz, Skiddy, Kiwi Guy
Born: January 28, 1975 in Waihi
Relationship status: Married
Kids: Two boys
How special is it to ride down the Champs-Elysees after finishing the Tour de France?
I've been fortunate enough to experience that ride five times now and that feeling of euphoria doesn't diminish one iota.
How shattered are you after the Tour?
Ask my wife who has to scrape me off the couch, floor or wherever else I tend to fall in a heap for two weeks after a Grand Tour!
Favourite memory of the Tour?
The time trail up Alpe d'Huez in the 2004 Tour. It was a spectacular stage to be a part of. The mountainside was literally swallowed up by the volume of spectators. I couldn't see the road in front of me. I just had to hope the fans would part in time for me to pass through. The cheering was deafening and the closeness of the fans was almost claustrophobic. It was a sensory overload.
What does the Tour mean to French people?
It seems to have as much a cultural importance to them as it does a sporting one. They are very passionate about it and being a cycling aficionado isn't a prerequisite to standing on the side of the road to cheer us on as we pass by. It's a part of their national identity and that is especially obvious when you see the Champs-Elysees shut down for the final stage of the Tour. There's no complaining about the inconvenience at having a main vein of the city closed for the day - just absolute passion and excitement that their bike race has made it to Paris once again.
How frustrating is it for you that your sport is dogged by drug scandals?
Yeah, it is very frustrating but I choose to just get on with what I do and focus on doing it the best way I know how.
How often do you have to do drug tests?
About 20 times a year. More often at races of course but I can be drug tested at any time without notice.
Have you ever been offered performance enhancing drugs?
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
That's a tricky one. I'm fortunate enough to have had a bunch in my career but starting and completing my first Tour de France, finishing top ten at the World Championships in Belgium and in Madrid and my performance at the Athens Olympics in 2004 are some of the highlights.
What has been the biggest setback of your career?
Breaking my leg in two places in a training accident in 2002. I had to have several months off the bike and coming back was probably one of the most mentally and physically toughest things I've had to endure in my career.
What do you enjoy about your job?
I enjoy doing the hard training and then getting the rewards of those efforts in a good performance and I love the passion, culture and history of cycling here in Europe.
What do you hate about your job?
The time away from the family, having to pack a suitcase every other week and spending so much time waiting in check-in queues, at luggage carousels, in airport security queues. I hate returning from New Zealand to Europe at the start of the season. I leave New Zealand in February with good form but for whatever reason my body hates making that transition from a Kiwi summer to a European winter and I struggle a lot physically and mentally through this period and my form really suffers. I tend to come good again around late April - just in time for the Giro d'Italia.
Do you have any pre-race rituals?
For big races like a Grand Tour I always go with a short haircut, freshly shaven legs and face and take brand new riding kit.
Do you have a regular pre-race meal?
Rice and eggs.
Do you have a regular post-race treat?
What are your sporting ambitions?
To win a stage in the Tour de France.
What is the best advice you've received?
My own advice to marry my wife!
What is the worst advice you've received?
Can't think of any.
What is your most embarrassing sporting moment?
It wasn't embarrassing at the time but when I think about it now, wearing undies underneath my riding shorts is probably the most embarrassing thing I've done in cycling.
What are your favourite other sports?
Surfing, football, Moto GP.
Do you have a favourite sporting moment or memory?
1987 Rugby World Cup.
Are there any sports you can't watch?
Nah not really. Even if I don't particularly like a sport, I always have respect for the athletes.
Who are your sporting heroes?
The All Whites.
Who is your favourite cyclist?
Who are your non-sporting heroes?
Sir Edmund Hillary, although still sporting really, I s'pose.
What is your favourite website?
Yahoo weather as it helps me decide how many of layers I'll need to wear on the bike.
What is your favourite TV show?
Don't get to watch TV these days with two tornado-like boys keeping our bums off the couch!
What is your favourite movie?
The Usual Suspects.
Do you prefer music or games?
Do you buy CD's or prefer downloads?
What is the best gig you've been to?
Kora in the Boiler Room.
What was the last album you bought (or downloaded)?
Use Your Illusion II on Vinyl.
What was the last book you read (or borrowed)?
Brian Turner's 'Somebodies and Nobodies'.
What car do you drive?
Skoda Octavia, or our old Seat Ibiza here in Spain. We get a lot of flack for the old girl but she just keeps on going! I drive a Toyota Caldina in New Zealand.
What is your dream car?
I'd prefer a dream motorbike actually a Triumph Bonneville.
Are you a technophobe or tech geek?
Do you wear Speedos or shorts?
In Spain Speedos are the go! In New Zealand, boardies without a doubt!
Do you prefer beer or wine?
Beer before dinner, wine with dinner.
Do you prefer chips or chocolate?
Do you prefer chips or chocolate?
What would you be doing if you weren't riding?
Where do you see yourself in five year's time?
Retired from cycling and relaxing somewhere.