Cadel Evans’s victory not only has implications for the GreenEdge project and Australian cycling in general, but also for other Olympic sports and athletes aiming for London, writes Anthony Tan.
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7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:37 PM


What I am hoping is that Cadel's win will flow into a belief that Australians belong at the top of the international sporting arena. Sometimes it only takes one person who beats the odds to inspire everyone

After the embarrassment that was Beijing (sans Anna Meares's silver
medal, which, if case you needed reminding, turned out to be Australia's only cycling medal from the 2008 Olympic Games), we needed a sign.

Something
green and big and positive to give our Australian cyclists – track,
road and mountain-bike – assurance that, when it comes to Olympic-level
competition, we are still medal winners.

"We have had a bit of a
lull in sport for Australian teams in the past two years, but with
Cadel's win there's an excitement around him I haven't seen for a couple
of years," Nick Green, Australia's chef de mission, told The Australian newspaper on Wednesday.

"Sport
goes in cycles and we have been on a bit of a downward swing, but now
it's starting to look like we're on our way back up.

"Luckily, that coincides with 12 months to go to the London (Olympic) Games."

* * *

It's true: I've never felt such fervour with regards to Australian cycling – and I'm not even home yet.

The
Sunday evening that proceeded Evans's historic Tour de France victory, I
decided to splash out a little and book myself into a small boutique
hotel, right across the road from the Concorde Lafayette in Paris's Porte
Maillot district, where all the riders and their teams were staying –
except for one.

By chance, it happened to be the same hotel chosen by the newly crowned maillot jaune and his BMC Racing team.

"Did you know Cah-dell-Eeh-vaans
is staying here?" asked the fetching French lass, who showed me and the
scrumptious blonde podium girl I had successfully courted over the past
fortnight to my room, having trouble containing her excitement.

(Upon
check-in, which was 10pm or thereabouts, BMC bigwigs John Lelangue,
Jim Ochowicz and Georges Lüchinger were standing in the lobby, dressed
to the nines in their party duds; it wasn't too hard to work out.)

'Oh
really?' I said, pretending not to know, but with enough inflection in
the 'really' to indicate I was interested, but not too interested.

"Oui, c'est vrai, le maillot jaune!"
she replied, her smile so effervescent and pearly, I thought for a
second the past three weeks had been a dream, and that Thomas Voeckler
had miraculously won the race.

(Warning: the next bit may or may not be true.)

Not wishing to disturb le maillot jaune
for yet another interview, I reluctantly decided not to work any more,
switching off my lappy after filing Unforgettable, my last blog of the
2011 Tour.

Instead, after a late dinner with my SBS
colleagues at a chic Parisian bistro, I was left with no alternative
except to make love to Mademoiselle Podium Girl – let's call her Giselle
for the next 36 hours, punctuated occasionally by a walk through the
gorgeous Luxembourg Gardens (more to pay commiserations to the Brothers
Schleck than anything) and the odd meal at a Michelin-starred
restaurant.

When I awoke, it was 7am on Tuesday and time to pack
and leave for Aéroport Charles de Gaulle. Giselle, somehow, had vanished
into thin air, as if she was never there in the first place.

* * *

Seven
hours later, on my stopover in Abu Dhabi and where I penned this tale,
no sooner had I arrived at the hotel and handed the receptionist my Aussie passport did she ask, "Did you know an Australian has won the Tour de France?"

'Oh really?' I said, pretending not to know.

"Yes, really," she replied. "The first Australian to win the race!"

'First
ever Aussie? My goodness! That's amazing!' I said, purposely stumbling
over my words, just like an Oscar-winning thespian would.

* * *

It's
a bit of a pity Evans has decided not to race the Vuelta a España, for
this season, I could see his winning streak continuing well beyond the
Tour de France – especially given the third week was where he was
strongest, and where he ultimately won La Grande Boucle.

He
has, however, indicated that he'd like to be part of the team for this
year's world road championships in Copenhagen, Denmark, riding as a domestique for one of two likely leaders – Matthew Goss and/or Robbie McEwen.

Still,
whatever happens from now, Cadel-mania will not abate anytime soon. And
it's likely to have positive flow-on effects not just in terms of the
GreenEdge project and cycling in general, but in other Olympic sports as
well.

"I sense a change in attitude and energy in the way our [Olympic] athletes are preparing," said Green.

"What
I am hoping is that Cadel's win will flow into a belief that
Australians belong at the top of the international sporting arena.
Sometimes it only takes one person who beats the odds to inspire
everyone."

Well, then, let the inspiration begin.

Follow Anthony on Twitter: @anthony_tan