The search for a more aerodynamic position has been the key to a Tour de France contender's preparation ever since Greg LeMond's legendary defeat of Laurent Fignon in the 1989 Tour. The American used special bars to streamline his form on the final stage, and put 50 seconds into the Frenchman, winning the Tour by a slim eight seconds. But that bit of cycling history nearly cost Australian Cadel Evans his best shot at becoming the first Australian to win the Tour.
According to an interview in The Australian, Evans' hours in a wind tunnel led to his tendonitis, which became serious enough to warrant a full stop from training. The first pains in his left knee came in mid-may as he was on a training ride in Switzerland.
"I thought, 's#!&, the more I ride, the more it hurts - this could be serious, and what a time for it to happen,'" Evans said. The 31-year-old came second to Alberto Contador in last year's Tour, and with the exclusion of Contador's Astana team from the race, he is arguably the top favourite to win.
The injury was the result of the tweaking to his position done in the wind tunnel. "We were working on a more aerodynamic time-trial position but we had to rush it a little bit and my body didn't adapt to the training with a new position on the bike," he said. "We do so many hours in one position that if you just change one little thing it can have big consequences.
Evans took some time off the bike, and had weeks of physical therapy to correct the injury, and went into the Dauphiné Libéré unsure of how his form would be. Needless to say, after coming in second on the fifth stage and putting many of his rivals into the pain box, Evans is satisfied that the setback was only temporary.