Cadel Evans would love a big result on Sunday at the Mars Cycling Australia Road National championships, but is realistic about his chances.
By
AAP

7 Apr 2015 - 5:20 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:35 PM

Evans starts his cycling farewell tour knowing rivals will jump on every tactical move he makes.

He will be one of the favourites on Sunday at the elite men's road race, the main event at the Australian road championships.

It is the first of three big races that will mark the end of Evans' unparalleled career in Australian cycling.

He will then compete at the January 18-25 Tour Down Under in Adelaide and retire after the inaugural Great Ocean Rd Race on February 1 that has been named in his honour.

Last year, Evans was runner-up to Simon Gerrans in a pulsating road race at the nationals and Richie Porte was third.

Gerrans will not defend his title after suffering a broken collarbone in a pre-Christmas training accident.

His absence will leave the powerful Orica-GreenEDGE team without their No.1 rider and means Evans and Porte will not have to worry about their main rival.

But it will also make the race much less predictable and means rivals will pay much more attention to the star pair.

That will be particularly true for Evans, given the only Australian to win the Tour de France has less than a month left in his career.

"Don't get me wrong, I'd love to win the road race at the national championships," Evans said. "But I'm just realistic about it.

"I'm going to be the most watched guy out there."

Evans will also be outnumbered, with only young BMC teammates Rohan Dennis and Campbell Flakemore for support.

But the hilly circuit at Buninyong, near Ballarat, suits his climbing strength.

"It's a solid course, but the climb is still a fair way from the finish," Evans said.

"But at this time of year 183km on that course is a hard race.

"It's going to be a solid day on the bike.

"If I go in and have a hard race but don't get a result, well, it's good training towards the Tour Down Under.

"If I can race hard and get a result, that's even better."

Evans is also realistic about the hype surrounding his last Australian championships.

"I don't believe in fairytales," he said.

"We'll prepare as well as we can, do the best race we can and the result will tell the story."

The nationals start late on Wednesday afternoon with the criterium races at Sturt St in Ballarat.