Cadel Evans is confident six weeks out of competition has been beneficial to his worlds preparation after a solid start to this week's Tour of Alberta.
Evans rode to a respectable fourth in the race's opening prologue time trial, 20 seconds back on stage victor Peter Sagan. But the result, which comes less than a month before the UCI Road World Championships in Florence, is an important step from Evans in showing he's still got something to give in 2013.
"After six weeks out of competition, and hitting the deck last Sunday, scraping in for 4th place was encouraging for me," said Evans after the stage.
"It's been a while - so I am happy to have a number on my back again. A 7.3km late evening prologue to start things off; a fast downhill, a two minutes climb on quite rough and otherwise flat roads. Sagan not surprisingly took the win, he was very impressive."
It's been an unconventional year for Evans who opted to race the Giro this year ahead of the Tour de France, something he's only done once before in his career in 2010, and ultimately paid a heavy toll. His Giro performance was impressive, Evans became the first Australian in history to stand on the race's final podium alongside Rigoberto Uran and Vincenzo Nibali.
His Tour performance however was underwhelming. After a solid start he fell away into the second week, and by Paris was 39th overall, more than an hour behind eventual winner Chris Froome.
In the weeks since Evans has hinted that his Tour days may be behind him, pencilling in the 2014 Giro d'Italia as his last Grand Tour hurrah, but nothing is yet certain. In the interim, a second chance at rainbow stripes in Florence is far from beyond him, pending selection but his form augurs well.
For now, it's just head down and getting on with it. He's in Canada with little aspirations, but building condition for Florence is critical.
"Being so flat and straight, without the clutter of modern infrastructure, I'm guessing we will have very high average speeds. Sagan is clearly the man to beat. But we'll see."
The Tour of Alberta continues tomorrow, Cycling Central will have daily highlights online throughout the race.
The Tour of Alberta is a new addition to the UCI calendar.