By John Trevorrow in Courchevel
Australian former mountain bike star Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto) finished a respectable eighth, in the same group as Jan Ullrich, Andreas Kloden (both T-Mobile) and Floyd Landis (Phonak), moving up to 13th from 25th on general classification. Evans said he felt good about his ride to Courchevel, though the particular style of the final climb didn't suit him.
"I have heard some people say some things in recent times that put a bit of doubt in my head over the last few years," Evans told Cyclingnews. "This will give me confidence for the future, but `piano piano` ... step by step."
Evans was in the final group of six with ten kilometers to go, but dropped off the pace as Mancebo turned the screw. At that point, Evans said, "I had been on my limit for a long time."
"I don't want to make excuses, but on this type of climb am not so good, he added. "It is more for the power guys. But when it come to power to weight ratio - seven, eight, nine and ten per cent climbs, that is more my kind of climb Now I have to rely on my consistency and regularity to see what I can do in the future."
Turning to the crew from Australian broadcaster SBS, Evans told them he was, "pretty stuffed actually. I wasted a fare amount of energy at the start of the climb. I had to fight for position.
"The pecking order hasn't been established, so for some people I am just getting in the way, for other people I am on my own and hold my own position. But if I drop back I have no one to bring me to the front In the end there, those first five or six guys rode at a level that was a bit too fast for me with nine kilometres to go."
Discovery's tempo wasn't what finally blew him out of the lead group, Evans explained, "it was more the attacks from Mancebo and Armstrong. That put me on the limit on this gradient of climb. But for the steeper climbs we will see."
Asked how much he had in reserve for the tough final two weeks of this Tour, Evans said, "In the weeks leading up to this race I always said I was probably going to struggle in the first week and things indicate that I am going to get better. But this is my first tour. So I will take it day by day and see what I can do in this Tour. For me this is the first day of the real Tour."
Nevertheless, today's was a confidence-boosting ride for Evans. "It looks like I might be able to ride into the top 10 if I am consistent and without problems," he said.