Cadel Evans believes that BMC’s ProTeam licence will help him arrive at this year’s Tour de France in a fresher state than in 2010. Last season, the Australian began his season at the Tour Down Under and rode for the general classification at the Giro d’Italia as his team sought to earn an invitation to the Tour.
“Last year’s Giro-Tour plan was partly because we were a Pro Continental team and we didn’t know whether we’d have the start in the Tour or not,” Evans told Cyclingnews at BMC’s training camp in Denia, Spain.
BMC’s automatic Tour de France invitation means that Evans will start his campaign almost eight weeks later this season, at the Strade Bianche. The 2009 world champion estimates that he will reach July with around twenty days less racing in his legs than he did last time around.
“One year in my life I have to really concentrate on the Tour and this year, with the period it is in my career and so on, was the year to do it,” he said.
“I’ve always in the past years arrived at the Tour quite fatigued and quite tired and obviously it’s not good for a three-week race. Hopefully I’ll get there a little fresher and have a little bit less bad luck when I get there.”
In the second half of the season, Evans will focus his energies on the Vuelta a España, where he finished 3rd in 2009.
The importance of ProTeam status
BMC directeur sportif John Lelangue explained that the Tour de France will be the team’s major objective of 2011. He also reiterated the importance of BMC’s ProTeam status, as it allows Evans and his teammates to plot out their programme further in advance than last season.
“Of course the Tour with Cadel is very important,” he said at the team presentation in Denia on Wednesday. “We’re building a team around him and being in the World Tour is a very big advantage in that regard compared to last year, as we already know our calendar of races.”
Outside of the Tour, Lelangue expects his men to be a significant factor in the cobbled classics, with Alessandro Ballan and George Hincapie to the fore, while the American calendar, particularly the Tour of California, will also be an important feature of the US-registered team’s agenda.
The development of young talent like Taylor Phinney and Tim Roe is another key part of the BMC’s ethos, and Max Sciandri has arrived as a directeur sportif from British Cycling to take responsibility for that specific task.
“Max Sciandri is totally focused on the young guys, he’ll have constant contact with them and organise training camps,” Lelangue said. As well as handling the team’s Italian calendar with Fabio Baldato, Sciandri will also scout for talent at under 23 and junior races as the team continues to build for the future.
Meanwhile, BMC team president Jim Ochowicz attributed his squad’s ProTeam licence to the solid results obtained by Evans and his colleagues over the course of the 2010 season and to the new signings the team has made to bolster its roster.
“We applied for a ProTeam licence for 2011 and in doing so we felt that we’d done a number of things to allow us to gain selection,” Ochowicz said.
“Firstly, we had reasonable results in 2010. Not outstanding, but results that showed the level of the team. Secondly, we really looked at where we could strengthen the squad for 2011. We felt we put a strong roster together and I’m sure the UCI took a look at that.”
Climber Johan Tschopp is among the new signings who will be on hand to aid Cadel Evans, while Greg Van Avermaet and Manuel Quinziato add weight to the classics line-up. With BMC committed as sponsor until the end of 2014, the team has also made a conscious decision to invest in youth, with American hope Taylor Phinney and Belgian climbing sensation Yannick Eijssen at the head of an exciting new generation of talent on the team.
“We’ll get wins and we’ll take lumps,” Ochowicz said. “But in 2011 you’ll certainly see a development in our performance.”
For Cyclingnews' exclusive photo gallery of the BMC team presentation in Denia, Spain, click here.