Cadel Evans has revealed he will begin his 2013 season at either the Tour of Oman or in Italy as he looks to bounce back from his difficult 2012 season.
Evans became the first Australia to win the Tour de France in 2011 but struggled with a virus last year. He missed the Ardennes classics, recovered to finish third in the Critérium du Dauphiné but was not at his best during the Tour de France and finished seventh. He was selected for the Olympic Games in London but did not ride the time trial and called an end to his season after the USA Pro Cycling Challenge.
He began training early but revealed he is cautious about pushing his body too hard, describing his health as "much better".
''I [may] start at the Tour of Oman (February 12-17) or some of the smaller one-day races in Italy. Because of the health issues I had last year, I have to see how my body responds to heavy training and racing before I can be sure,'' Evans told Fairfax Media in Australia.
The Tour of Oman includes several climbs and would see Evans take on Alberto Contador and Vincenzo Nibali. However Evans dismissed any early-season rivalry.
''If Alberto and I both start in Oman, I think we will both be riding our own races in accordance with our preparation for the season,'' he said.
Evans became a father in 2012 after he and his wife Chiara adopted Ethiopian-born Robel. He said that fatherhood has changed their lives for the better. It could also influence how longer he races as a professional. He will be 36 on February 14 and his contract with the BMC Racing team ends in 2014.
''Becoming a father is probably one of the biggest experiences we have in our lives,'' Evans said. ''As a family, I think we are adapting to the changes, which of course makes other things in our lives easier.''
''I am not sure I will be racing after 2014 because it is still a long way off. At this point, I am focused on a good 2013 Tour. Afterwards, let's see what happens.''