36-year-old Australian on form after a good winter
Cadel Evans celebrated his 36th birthday while suffering on the bike for several hours during a determined ride on the Tour of Oman stage 4 to Green Mountain.
The Australian veteran hasn't raced since the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in August after his 2012 was affected by an apparent low-level virus. However, he looked fit and lean when he arrived in Oman and showed that he has perhaps recovered from his troubles with a third place on the stage behind Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and second overall behind new race leader Chris Froome (Team Sky).
"I've come here with an open mind, knowing I've trained well in the off season and leading into this," Evans said. "But it is my first race and my first real test of the year. I'd say I'm very satisfied. I couldn't have asked more from myself."
Evans sits 24 seconds behind Froome in the overall, but after he gapped Alberto Contador (Team Saxo-Tinkoff) and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) on the final, steepest part, of the climb to the finish of stage 4, he moved up to second overall. Contador is now third at 25 seconds with Nibali fourth at 34 seconds, and Rodriguez is a more distant fifth at 45 seconds.
"Joaquim took his timing perfectly," Evans said after recovering from his effort. "He saw when the others were watching each other and then rode his own race."
"It was everyone for themselves for most of the climb. The only tactic that happened was letting Rodriguez have a little freedom because he was out of GC. Contador was the most aggressive, and the most marked by the others, but we all kind of watched each other and chased each other. Like me, it's Froome's first race of the season and he timed his effort well."