Consistency key for Evans in Tour bid

Cycling,Tour,FRA,Evans,BMC,Grand Tour,Veteran
History maker...if Cadel Evans wins the Tour de France he will become the oldest Tour winner (AAP Images)
Share This
+ Comment
0

BMC team leader Cadel Evans will line up at the Tour de France on Saturday with a chance of becoming the oldest winner of the world's biggest bike race.

It will be crucial to be consistent everywhere: on the flat stages and time trials. The climbs will be particularly important this year. Avoiding bad luck is always key as well.

Evans has had a different lead up to this year's Tour than he did when he won it in 2011. The Australian recently finished third at the Giro d'Italia, changing the nature of his preparation.

"Having a Giro in my legs already this year, means my lead up has been more focused on recovery than training," Evans wrote on his blog.

Evans said that his preparation, which has included a training camp with team-mates Steve Morabito and Brent Bookwalter and some days at home with his family, is coming together well.

"Of course we will have much better idea after a few days of racing, but my recovery has been a lot better this time around doing the Giro - Tour double than in 2010. Time will tell, with a few days of 'rest' in Corsica, and we will be ready to go and test ourselves...."

But after his under-par performance in a 2012 edition won by Bradley Wiggins, the 2011 champion will face a large challenge in order to upset the victory plans of favourites Chris Froome (Sky) and Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff).

The race route might change every year, but for 36-year-old Evans the keys to success remain the same.

"It will be crucial to be consistent everywhere: on the flat stages and time trials. The climbs will be particularly important this year. Avoiding bad luck is always key as well," he said.

As bad luck goes, Evans has had more than his fair share - including last year when the defence of his title was hit by a viral infection which left him struggling to keep pace in key mountain stages.

As Wiggins celebrated making history for Britain, Evans settled for a seventh place finish and, still suffering, pulled out of the Olympic Games.

Many fans were left wondering if the 2009 world champion's best years were behind him, but a year later Evans looks to be the only threat to 2012 runner-up Froome and Spain's former two-time winner Contador.

Why? Firstly, this year's edition is shorn of several big names.

Wiggins pulled out last month due to a combination of illness and injury. Italian Vincenzo Nibali, third last year, has opted out having achieved his main objective of the season in winning the Giro d'Italia.

And after going off the radar, 2010 winner Andy Schleck (RadioShack Leopard) goes to the Tour in hope rather than belief that he can challenge for a podium place.

Thirdly, Evans has felt the full range of pain and upset the race throws up. The Australian has gritted his teeth during numerous campaigns that have been virtually derailed by crashes, illness and injury.

Seeing Evans battle his way to victory in 2011 was a huge inspiration for Wiggins as the Londoner, having crashed out earlier in the race with a broken collarbone, watched events unfold on television.

Evans's determined reaction to a superb solo attack by Schleck on the Galibier climb, as the race hung in the balance, allowed the Australian to take a major step towards victory in Paris.

"The way he took the race on and got himself to the summit was phenomenal," said Wiggins, prior to his 2012 Tour campaign. "He has set the benchmark for all the training we do at Sky and shown us the way to win the Tour."

In eight participations Evans has won the race once (2011), finished runner-up twice (2007, 2008) and finished fourth overall, in 2006, for a total of six top ten finishes in eight starts.

While Froome is the bookies' favourite, Evans has a fighting chance if either Froome or Contador, or both, suffer mishaps or an off-day.

Despite a slow build-up this year, Evans rallied through a weather-hit Giro d'Italia to finish third overall, two places behind Nibali, having only being informed of his participation several weeks earlier.

"Not looking at results, but in terms of objectives to work for, it was really successful. To be on the podium for what was, in some ways, just a training ride, is something," he said.

Evans also has the full backing of his BMC team, which includes six of the riders who contributed to his 2011 triumph: Brent Bookwalter, Marcus Burghardt, Amael Moinard, Steve Morabito, Manuel Quinziato and Michael Schaer.

They will be joined by reigning world road champion Philippe Gilbert, as well as American climbing expert Van Garderen, whose fifth place overall last year added to Evans' woes.

"I am happy to have my three 'guardian angels' - Quinziato, Burghardt and Schaer - around me, plus Brent, Amael and Steve from our successful 2011 team," said Evans. "And with Tejay coming into the mix, we are a lot stronger in the mountains than in past years."

If Evans upsets predictions and wins the race he would become the oldest rider, by a month, to win the Tour. Belgian Firmin Lambot was 36 years and four months old when he won the race for the second time in 1922.

SBS will broadcast all stages of the Tour de France live.

cycling central-latest /Videos

ADVERTISEMENT

The latest on cycling central

Keep up with Cycling Central

ADVERTISEMENT

On SBS TV & Radio

PROMOTION