Despite his general classification hopes being smashed just one week into the Tour de France, UCI World Champion Cadel Evans has battled on to avoid disappointing fans, team members, race organisers and himself. The Australian spoke openly and honestly about his feelings throughout this year’s Tour during the race’s second rest day, when he tipped overall rival Alberto Contador (Astana) to claim this year’s title.
“It’s obviously not where we aimed to be,” said Evans. “I always try and do my best, but given what’s happened it’s just the best I can do. I’ve never tried for a result with a broken limb; it’s not something I want to have experience in, it’s not something I want anyone to have experience in. I’m here and I’ve continued on my way. Even 24th…I was hoping for more.
“Obviously after the crash I’m not performing as I was,” he added. “In respect to the race organisers, in respect to the team and the work we’ve done not just to be at the Tour but for me to be at the Tour and be good, I’ve continued on my way. It was actually kind of enjoyable riding a bit regularly in the group yesterday because we could actually enjoy the Tour for a moment as opposed to the group in front that was going flatout, but of course I want to do better.”
Evans underwent further x-rays on the second rest day to ensure the bone he broke on stage eight hadn’t been displaced. The BMC Racing Team rider also went for a ride on his time trial machine to see if any changes were required to accommodate his physical condition, ahead of Saturday’s 52 kilometre race.
“I’m not harming my health as I understand it,” he said. “The main thing for me is that quitting and sitting at home on the couch now watching the Tour for me would bring nothing to anyone but disappointment, so I’m not there.
Evans tipped Contador to win his third Tour when the race reaches Paris on Sunday. The Spaniard is expected to battle main rival Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) on the slopes of Col du Tourmalet, which could move Contador into a race winning position even before Saturday’s time trial.
“I think so. Normally on paper for the time trial he’s the superior time triallist,” said Evans. “He certainly looks to be riding well this year and I haven’t seen Andy do a good time trial this year, but Andy has come into his best for this July so we’ll see, but normally I’d think Contador.”
While fellow general classification hopeful Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) rued his decision to ride the Giro d’Italia prior to this year’s Tour, Evans doesn’t believe the Grand Tour double is a bad thing. He wouldn’t be drawn to discuss his plans for next year however, asking media to let him reach Paris before worrying about 2011.
“I still think it’s possible to ride two good Grand Tours,” he said. “This year it didn’t quite work. Also things went a little bit ahead of schedule in January, February, March for me and maybe I’m paying a little bit the price there now that things aren’t going that well.”