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Giro d’Italia 2013: Making sense of Cadel Evans' decision to race

By:
Jane Aubrey
Race:
Giro d'Italia
Cadel Evans speaks at the BMC team presentation

Cadel Evans speaks at the BMC team presentation

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BMC's Cadel Evans is racing the Giro d'Italia in 2013. It's a move that has left many pondering just what it means for the former Tour de France winner. Before heading into the 2011 Tour de France he said: "I feel well-prepared for July and fresher than the last couple of seasons." Prior to 2010, the Giro had appeared on Evans' program in 2002 and never in tandem with the Tour. So what makes 2013 different if he is a genuine contender for a second Tour de France victory?

"I think for me it's going to be a bit of an experiment and I'm as interested as anyone to see how it goes and the main thing is that I go to the Giro and try and do as best as I can," Evans admitted to Cyclingnews at the Giro del Trentino.

A virus effectively ended any hopes the Australian had of repeating his Tour de France victory last season and put a dint in his build up for 2013. Still, signs have so far been mildly encouraging without scaling the heights of his run in to the 2011 grand boucle when he won Tirreno - Adriatico, Tour de Romandie and then finished second in the Critérium du Dauphiné. So far this season, third overall at the Tour of Oman and then eighth overall at Trentino, have provided some reason to be optimistic for July, but it's still a long way from being optimal with his race form not coming together as Evans would have hoped. And so BMC went back to the drawing board and proposed the Giro be added to his schedule with the announcement made on March 30.

Joining Evans for the 2012 Tour was all-rounder Steve Cummings in an arguably stronger team line up than previous, with the Briton forcing his way into the team off the back of the Tour de Suisse. The plan this time around was to have Cummings with Evans again during the Tour but the 32-year-old's packed schedule meant that he too will ride the Giro but not now go on to France.

"[I was] A little bit [surprised]," Cummings admitted to Cyclingnews at the news that Evans would ride both grand tours.

"Sometimes things don't always go as planned so you have to adapt and he's pretty good at that."

When the Giro departs from Naples on Saturday, Evans will have had around five weeks of dedicated preparation under his belt. It's a very different build up from those expected to be fighting for the maglia rosa, the likes of Wiggins, Nibali and Hesjedal, who have spent the last six-odd months in search of the required condition for three weeks that's said to be balanced.

"On one hand getting ready for the Tour, the Giro's great. On the other hand, I really like the Giro," Evans explained. "I'm a competitive rider; I have a competitive instinct and I want to do well at the Giro. I do what I can to be as good as I can but also I just have to be realistic," he said with the Giro's contenders in mind.

Asked if there is a risk involved in taking on the Giro, given his major objective for the season remains over the horizon, Evans is frank.

"Certainly," he replied.

Looking back on 2010

It may be the only example that Evans has to draw on, but the experience of 2010 and riding both the Giro and the Tour is not something that the 36-year-old is necessarily comfortable with.

"It's hard for me to say," he admitted.

Third in the opening stage individual time trial and into the leader's jersey after stage 2, Evans began the 93rd edition of the corsa rosa in promising fashion. A pile-up and a lack of team support cost Evans the race lead the next day but on the muddy roads of Tuscany on Stage 7 to Montalcino, Evans prevailed for the win, using his mountain-biking nous in the challenging conditions. Four days later and a 262km day in the saddle in rain-soaked conditions would prove Evans' undoing.

"Unfortunately the night before the stage to L'Aquila, I went to bed with a temperature," he explained after the race not wanting it to become an excuse throughout. "I had a 38.8C and woke up the morning after with 38.0C. The team doctor advised me to go home... The day after I still felt ill and also had stomach problems. I was forced to eat plain rice for a few days and after that I never felt as good as I had earlier in the race."

Evans would fight back to eventually finish fifth overall and with the points jersey in hand in what would prove a historic Giro for Australians with Matthew Lloyd and Richie Porte claiming the mountains and young rider classifications respectively.

Moving on to the Tour de France, the after-effects of the virus had taken a toll but on the day he would take the race lead in Morzine-Avoriaz, Evans also crashed with the full extent of his injuries not coming to light until after a rest day and an emotional day in yellow was done and dusted. A broken elbow ended any chance he had of winning the Tour and he would go on to finish 25th overall.

"I've done it before but I don't like to use that as a measure because obviously that's not what I plan to happen in 2013," he conceded.

Paris in focus

Marcus Burghardt has ridden every Tour de France alongside Evans since 2010, a regular sight and an element of calm by the Australian's side in the chaos of the peloton. For the German, there was no question of concern over the shock decision to ride the Giro with the end-game very much the French Grand Tour.

"I am not so much focused on Cadel's preparation," Burghardt told Cyclingnews. "I follow his races but it's his decision what he is racing and how he is getting in shape. I'll do my preparation before and we're going to get a good team together for the Tour."

The decision to ride the Giro may be hazardous, but there is also one element that Evans can rely upon.

"If you're there for GC you have to stay in the front whether you're good or bad and that can sometimes push you a bit further than what you otherwise would have pushed so you can control things," Evans told Cyclingnews, welcoming the rise in intensity of the three-week battle.

Not as difficult as 2010, but still challenging enough as the final week of racing draws near, Evans explained that this too would work in his favour, given the Tour de France is his major objective.

"Hopefully that's going to favour us to do Giro and the Tour," he said.

"The block in the third week looks pretty important to me. The mountain time trial is going to be important but also the middle week, you're going to be ready for the mountains by the time you get to the third week that's for sure. You're going to be ready for the mountains or you're going to be well out of contention, that's probably the way it's going to be."

And with that comes the key to Evans even being on the start line in the first place. Evans is not racing the Giro d'Italia to hold the distinctive spiralled trophy aloft come May 26 in Brescia, as he was in 2010.

"I'm not putting bets on myself for the pink jersey in Brescia put it that way," he chuckled.

Burghardt made it clear that despite speculation that Tejay van Garderen would be pushing Evans for team leadership come July, the focus was very much on the incumbent with BMC ensuring he had all the resources necessary for the task.

"It's not only me in the team who can do a good job in the front," he said. "We also have other strong riders and they'll also do their job and they're there for Cadel. We're going to try and help him as much as possible."

It was a sentiment echoed by Cummings.

"He's Cadel and he always wants to race hard so we'll try and protect him," explained the Brit. "Whether it be for GC or stages; whatever he decides, he's capable."

 

Dr.JSW More than 1 year ago
Good luck to you Cadel. I hope you make the podium in both tours.
venetodan More than 1 year ago
encouraging article. BMC and Cadel have a plan.
n085329 More than 1 year ago
As an Aussie, I would love to see Cadel win a 2nd TdF, but I kind of feel like their plan is for Cadel to be too exhausted from the Giro to be competitive at the Tour, and they will promote Tejay Van Garderen to leadership either before or during the Tour, with Cadel to ride for him as an 'ultra-super Domestique'.....
Bill Forrest More than 1 year ago
good insight....
Peter von More than 1 year ago
I really don't think BMC is that stupid, to fatigue Evans just to make Van Garderen captain, seems like a lot of waste in potential just to avoid an unpleasant conversation, also there is no reason why they should be in any hurry to make a domestique out of either of the two, they have seven other riders on hand in the tour to do the dirty work, maybe six if Hushovd or Gilbert gets a free role. I think the Giro as build up for le Tour can be very effective, if Evans keeps his cool and don't get involved in the GC battle on too many of the mountain stages, but just pick his stages and go for a stage win or three, maybe with a King of Mountains just for the heck of it, he could boost his confidence, his form and still be able to recover prior to le Tour.
Alpe73 More than 1 year ago
I really like Cadel; I hope he finds a way.
Chuck_T More than 1 year ago
+1
CanadaSJRA More than 1 year ago
One thing is for sure, he ALWAYS gives everything he has!
T.Hamiltonrocks More than 1 year ago
One of the few riders I believed always rode clean.
philjthommo More than 1 year ago
Totally agree, he has had an amazingly consistent TdF record to date and always seems underrated. TdF from 2005 to 2012. 8th, 4th, 2nd, 2nd, 30th (bad year), 26th (broken elbow), 1st & 7th.
rshimizu12 More than 1 year ago
I think it would be great if Cadel did well in the Giro and the TDF. But we have any seen any signs at all that he is on form. My guess it's probably better to concentrate on the Vuelta and the fall classics. Personally I do not understand why more riders do not do this.
Peter von More than 1 year ago
I think the point is just that, he goes to the giro looking to get back into form. Think Valverde in last years tour, he looked off for the bigger part of the race but showed some real power in the later stages and went on to ride an amazing Vuelta, Evans needs to do the same here. He did show some resemblance of form in Trenino, so he's not completely out of form, his results this season isn't worse than what Hesjadal had achieved prior to last years giro, okay maybe not quite as good but still comparable. I agree many could benefit from taking la Vuelta more seriously, but athletes, i think, have to have goals in the first 2/3 of the season to stay busy and the giro is just a bigger race than la Vuelta. If i were Evans i probably would have made my usual tour build up, and then have focused on la Vuelta if the tour was a failure, but i think the mindset Evans has, that which makes him great, forces him to run this risk because it's the only way he has a chance of getting back into the right form in time for july, even if he risks being fatigued.
Jittery Joe More than 1 year ago
Easy. He is gonna be a dark horse at Giro. Go for it, Cadel..
PJK1972 More than 1 year ago
It's a strange move. Evans has only shown that his conditioning up to this point is so-so. Compared to Wiggins & Nibali at Trentino he was off the pace and I can't see that changing in a few weeks. He'll be in the top 10 for sure but I can't see he threatening the podium. As for the TdF It'll be intersting to see if the Giro blunts this years effort. He's always had guts though so fair play to him if he manages to pull either of the GT's off.
slartiblartfast More than 1 year ago
I think it is acknowledgement from BMC that Van Garderen is now their number one GC rider so will lead the team at the Tour. Evans is the number two GC rider so will lead the team at the Giro and do the Tour as super domestique. Same reason Wiggins is doing the Giro - he will ride for Froome at the Tour.
Peter von More than 1 year ago
I hope he does a Menchov and makes an "accidental" giro victory, it's not very likely, but not impossible, the overweight of mountains in the second half of the races makes it possible to start in less than stellar form and then building it up peeking in the last week, while staying in contention in the first half of the race. However the smart thing for Evans to do is clearly to ignore the GC and just try and win a few stages so he only digs deep on 3-4 stages rather than 10-12 as the GC riders may have to, as to avoid being overly fatigued come july.
movingtarget More than 1 year ago
The best thing he can do is try to compete for GC and if he can't just ride more conservatively in the second half of the race and save something for the Tour but history shows Evans never usually rides like that. The year he won the Tour he was winning earlier stage races and still competing hard.

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