The learning curve has been quite steep for Australian Alexander Evans, who just wrapped his second straight week of racing as a stagiaire for US-registered WorldTour team, BMC Racing.
Australians and BMC seem to go hand-in-hand since another Aussie of the same surname gifted both his nation and his team its first yellow jersey victory at Le Tour de France in 2011.
Since Cadel’s historic victory, several cyclists from Down Under have graced BMC’s roster, including current Australian riders Miles Scotson, Rohan Dennis, Simon Gerrans and Richie Porte, as well as Kiwi Patrick Bevin. Promising up-and-comer Campbell Flakemore was also once on the squad before he unexpectedly retired at 23 as a neo-pro.
Now a new Evans, along with fellow countryman Freddy Ovett, is next in line. While the 24-year-old Ovett, son of British Olympic gold medal runner Steve Ovett, crashed out at Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah, the 21-year-old Bendigo native has continued to grind and has not only racked up race days and experience points with BMC at one UCI 2.HC event but two.
However, according to the 21-year-old former Mobius-BridgeLane rider, the differences between the two races and his experiences at both are clearly measurable.
“This is definitely a bit different from Utah,” Evans told Cycling Central prior to the start of the fourth and final stage of the 2018 Arctic Race of Norway on Sunday. “The crosswinds, bunch positioning, it’s just been pretty hectic. It’s definitely different — the European racing — than what the American racing was.
“It might have given me a false sense of security going to Utah,” he admitted. “I’ve had my eyes opened coming here.”
For Evans, who joined BMC on the final podium as winner’s of the Arctic Race’s teams classification, it has been quite the journey since finishing second to multi-time Grand Tour stage winner and Colombian general classification contender Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-Scott) on the queen stage atop Lake Mountain at the Herald Sun Tour six months ago. It’s a quick ascension Evans did not necessarily expect to occur so soon.
“It’s been a steep progression,” he explained “I suppose it’s slowed down now a little bit, but it’s good to be here.
“[The Sun Tour result] is what got me noticed,” Evans continued. “Prior to that, it was a stage at Tour of Tassie, which got me into Mobius, which got a start at Sun Tour so that probably kickstarted it all.”
However, if Evans’ Sun Tour performance was a catalyst toward his jump from Mobius to BMC, it was also a pivotal point in a series of events that nearly never took place.
“I was sitting in the hotel room and went out to get in the car and they had all left, so they left me behind,” he recalled. “Luckily they came back and got me. There is always a chance of it happening again, but hopefully, I got my act together.”
“Getting his act together” should not be a problem for Evans according to Mobius director Tom Petty, who was turned on to the Victorian thanks in part to Peta Mullens and Jarrod Maroni tipping him off last year.
“Alexander Evans is the real deal,” Petty told Cycling Central. “ He is the kid that is born with an exceptional amount of talent, and with the right guidance and platform, he’ll turn into one of the best climbers in the world.
“I’m proud that we saw that raw talent and had the racing to get him noticed,” he continued. “BMC are lucky they’ve got him, and a bigger pro team would be smart to snap him up early because I think he’s just at the beginning of a bright future.
“Maybe Australia’s next Grand Tour hopeful.”
While he may be touted by his former team boss as the nation’s “next big thing” in cycling, according to Evans, his current objectives are a bitter smaller in scale.
“My goals are to just help the team as much as I can and showcase what I can do when I can,” shared Evans, who is scheduled to start the Great War Remembrance Race (1.1) in Belgium — a one-day, classic-style race — before setting up a European home base in Girona, Spain.
“But first and foremost, I am here to help the team wherever possible, and in the meantime, BMC will be waiting to see how I go and that will be the deciding factor on what happens for me next year.”