By Tim Maloney, European Editor
Currently sitting 25th on general classification, Davitamon-Lotto's Cadel Evans is quietly confident that he can move up the ladder in this year's Tour de France. Evans looked like a future grand tour contender when he wore the leader jersey at the 2002 Giro d'Italia for Mapei, but was plagued by injury after accepting a lucrative contract with T-Mobile. Even after he'd apparently proven himself by winning the Tour of Austria in 2004 he was left off T-Mobile's Tour de France team.
Finally riding his first Tour, the former mountain bike World Cup champion remains cautiously optimistic. On the first rest day in Grenoble, we asked Evans about the action on the Col de Schlucht Saturday, where his former T-Mobile teammates put pressure on then race leader Armstrong. "Well I saw Kloden strong, Vinokourov good, Armstrong exposed," said Evans. "The attacks from Vino were pretty much what I was expecting, but the big surprise was Armstrong on his own. His team has to come up to another level if they want to keep protecting him. T-Mobile are going to be on the attack now... but sometimes (Discovery) like to play mind games as well as physical games. They're strong and smart. Maybe they're saving themselves."
As for Evans himself, it's been a long road to finally get to the Tour de France. Evans is one of four former former fat tire specialists (along with Michael Rasmussen, Dario Cioni and Floyd Landis) who hope to shine in this years Tour de France. "So far, it's on track for me, but the hardest days are yet to come. It's early days yet, but day by day, so far it's gone good. I'm happy until this point."