Here’s a question for you Cycling Central readers. When was the last time Cadel Evans took part in the Australian Road National Championships? Scratching your head? Fair enough, because it’s been quite a while.
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7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:38 PM

For those that didn't want to waste time with an internet trawl and instead flicked their eyes a centimetre down the page - the year was 2005. It was Robbie McEwen's second national title and it came thanks to an selfless performance from Evans, who acted super-domestique to McEwen, propelling him to the green and gold jersey.

"Cadel Evans was just doing as much work as he could to get us to the finish," said McEwen of the role Evans had in the win… We rode a superb race together and worked just perfectly.. That enabled me to win the race."

McEwen had been integral in bringing Evans on to the Davitamon-Lotto team for the 2005 season after the latter had spent two unhappy years with Telekom. The sprinter took him under his wing, acting an unofficial middleman to help broker a deal for Evans, and pushed his case with team manager, Marc Sergeant. In exchange, on a course that might have suited Evans better, in Echunga, South Australia, the Australian eschewed his own chances to boost those of McEwen.

Then Evans was a relative unknown. His 2002 Giro performance, where he wore pink, and his mountain bike successes had barely made a ripple in Australia. The kid from Katherine was overshadowed by the O'Grady's, McEwen's and McGee's of the world. He hadn't even ridden a Tour de France.

2005, as it transpired would turn out to be a massive year for Evans and his profile was about to sky-rocket. It was also seminal one in seeing him drift out of Australian racing. His eighth overall in his debut Tour de France, and a notably strong final week drew both management, and Evans to change his schedule, and delay the launch of his road season deeper into the year. That meant sacrificing January, the Tour Down Under and the National Championships, but such a plan had merit. No other Tour contender was starting their year so early - why should Evans?

And though it seemed an inevitability that Evans would one day return to the Nationals, and likely win it, the Australian instead became increasingly Euro-focused. So Euro-focused that he's never returned to grace a national championship in the time since. In some ways it's been a logical move. The 2011 Tour de France, and his 2009 World Championship win in Mendrisio are reward for a tenacious consistency and a meticulous approach and build up to each and every year. But then...

Evans will, when he does finally hang up the bike, end his career the most decorated Australian rider of all time, by some margin. Yet, though his record is enviable, Evans has never won a national championship - something Simon Gerrans, Robbie McEwen and Stuart O'Grady have all accomplished at least once. It's the gap in an otherwise unblemished palmares.

Evans has already committed to the Santos Tour Down Under. He'll line up there for the first time since 2010, and that news has been welcomed by the Australian cycling community. Nationals, again to be held in Buninyong, are less than two weeks before Down Under. Would it be such a stretch to see Evans lineup?

I asked just that question of Evans's manager, Jason Bakker.

"(There's) an outside chance Al," Bakker said in an e-mail. "He may be back in Europe for Christmas and get back the week before the Tour Down Under - but it's a bit up in the air. Balancing family life with cycling training, prep, and racing is difficult. At the moment it's probably unlikely but if situation changes happy to let you know."

Understandably, Evans has a packed schedule, and the Giro remains his overarching goal for next year. And while winning a national championship may be a long-shot for the 36 year old, wouldn't it be nice to see him taking a bit of Australian flavour to the Giro d'Italia as he battles for pink? A hat tip to those supporters who can't make it to Adelaide, or have never made the trip to France in July, if Evans were to simply turn up for a few of gruelling circuits of the now iconic Mount Buninyong?

Personally I'd love to see Evans grace the road race at the very least, and I doubt I'm alone. It's been too long between drinks and for the man who has done it all, it's the last frontier.