Australian building gradually after 2012 virus
Cadel Evans is confident he will lead the BMC Racing Team at this year's Tour de France despite a quiet start to the season.
Evans finished seventh in the 2012 Tour de France, discovering afterwards that he had been hampered by a virus. He ended his season in August and has made a cautious return to racing.
Teammate Tejay van Garderen finished fifth and won the best young rider white jersey at the Tour de France. He finished third overall at the Critérium International behind the dominant Team Sky duo of Chris Froome and Ritchie Porte. Evans was a distant 51st, more than 15 minutes down. He admitted he had a poor time trial in his blog and confirmed that he worked as a domestique for van Garderen during the final stage.
Evans became the first Australian to win the Tour de France in 2011. He was 34 at the time and turned 36 on February 14. He is convinced he is not past his best and that experience is vital when it comes to winning the Tour de France.
"There is some short-term memory from the media, I had a virus last year and I still was seventh in the Tour de France," the 36-year-old told the Reuters news agency.
"Of course on paper, Tejay was better than me but people seem to forget what I have done on the Tour de France in the six years preceding 2012."
"If I'm not sick and everything goes according to plan, yes (I will be team leader). Like I said there seems to be a short-term memory thing in the media, I did actually win the Tour once before. That does sort of prove that I can do it."
Evans has opted for a controlled comeback after his virus problem and is convinced it is the best way to build-up for the Tour de France.
"I had a virus last year and it changes everything at this point compared to 2011," he said. "I haven't won any races yet (this year) so in that regard I'm behind but it's a slow and steady progress towards the Tour."
"They (Team Sky) seem to be very, very well prepared for the early part of the season with two whole teams of strong climbers and in the mountains at least they can dictate their own terms. Normally, putting guys at such a high level in the early season means you're going to pay for it later in the year, that would be the normal case - time will tell in that regard."
"For now they are going to be hard to beat, they're the guys to beat."