As far as Anthony Tan is concerned, there is really only one rider capable of ruining Cadel Evans’ ambition to win his first Tour de France, as he writes from Pau.
By
7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:37 PM


Every day spent without dropping riders like Cadel Evans, it's getting harder for them to win
The defending champion uttered these words following the fourteenth
stage to the Plateau de Beille, where once again, we saw an impasse by
the main contenders vying for the top step of the Paris podium.

Contador
was asked about the questionable tactics of the Schleck brothers, when
only two days before on the road to Luz-Ardiden, he again said of the
Schlecks, "they wasted a chance to drop a rider like Evans".

Now,
however, it seems the Schlecks did not waste an opportunity for lack of
trying – but instead were unable to take advantage or create an
opportunity, for the simple fact that they don't have the legs.

And
after today's stage to Gap, Evans has one less rider to concern himself
with, for only Fränk has the form to win. But that in itself is a long
shot, because somewhere between now and the start of the Grenoble time
trial on 23 July, Schleck the Elder needs to find at least another
minute on Cadel, and so far, he has not shown any indication of being
able to do that.

Ivan Basso, the guy I thought to be one of
Evans' biggest threats, can most probably also be discounted from the
equation, for what is missing is the Liquigas leader's third-week spark
that won him the 2010 Giro d'Italia.
Which therefore leaves just Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Contador himself.

Voeckler, the evergreen maillot jaune
who somehow has found the legs to be with the best at 32 years of age,
continues to amaze me. Okay, he's enjoying his best season to date with
two stage race victories (Tour du Haut Var, Four Days of Dunkirk) and
six wins to his name so far, but where did this all come from?

Regardless, don't believe him when he continues to sprout the words, "I have no chance to win this year's Tour de France."

I think he'll end up on the podium – the question is which step.

Sanchez,
the winner on Luz-Ardiden, is proving to be the best climber in the
race. But so far, he's not so good that he's bothering Cadel, for the
Basque is still 1:41 behind Evans on the overall classification.

A
likely scenario is that he and Contador, in a similar position to
Sanchez, 1:57 behind Evans, will forge an alliance over the next three
days. With their punchy climbing styles, the Spanish duo will attempt to
dislodge the Australian – who is more comfortable riding high tempo –
with repeated accelerations designed to break his rhythm, leaving him
isolated.

For my money, Contador, who has finally showed signs of his 2009-10 best, remains Evans' greatest threat.

With
just a trio of Alpine stages remaining, the embattled 28-year-old will,
as he has said, need to take every opportunity he has to attack. When
you have won the race three times before, second or third place will
never be a satisfactory result.

"All I can say is that I do not want to reach Paris wondering what would have happened if I'd tried," Contador said.

Sometime
before the Grenoble time trial, expect an all-or-nothing move from the
Teflon Spaniard, because to win the Tour, he must be equal or ahead of
Evans on overall time.

Follow Anthony on Twitter: @anthony_tan