Understandably, perhaps, given that a mechanical problem left him over-geared on the steep final ramps of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo on Saturday, Cadel Evans’ first act on emerging from the BMC bus ahead of the final stage of the Giro d’Italia was to check his bike thoroughly.
Evans lost second place overall to Rigoberto Uran (Sky) in the snowbound finale of stage 20 and his frustration with his equipment malfunction was palpable at the finish, as he investigated the damage and then shut himself in a BMC team car rather than speak to the press.
Twenty-four hours later, and with that initial disappointed digested, Evans was keen to look at his Giro from a different perspective and focus on the bigger picture. The Australian’s decision to enter the race was a late one, and given that his stated aim was to build towards the Tour de France, his place on the final podium in Brescia exceeded expectations.
“I came here, like I said from the first day, to recover the days of racing that I lost last year because of the illness and so on and get back to my best and yesterday I was really coming back close to that,” Evans said. “If you look at things in terms of the objective I set out to do here, it was actually really successful. Of course I would have preferred to have been second than third but to be on the podium in what was really in some ways a training ride – well, that’s something.”
When the race began in Naples, Evans was widely viewed as being among the second tier of contenders, a step behind Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), Bradley Wiggins (Sky) and Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp). While Nibali ultimately proved untouchable, Evans’ robust challenge outlasted that of both Wiggins and Hesjedal, who abandoned in the second week.
“This Giro has been tough. Every day when you think it’s going to be easy, it’s just been a disaster with crosswinds or thunderstorms or whatever,” Evans said. “But it was interesting for me to see what an experienced rider could do with no preparation. My main thing was to give my maximum and I did that. I made a couple of little errors and mistakes and had a few things that I couldn’t anticipate but that happens.”
Tour de France
Evans’ focus will now begin shifting towards the Tour de France, although he is aware that balancing the demands of the Giro and the Grande Boucle in the same season has proved an increasingly tough conundrum for general classification contenders in recent years.
“When you do the Giro and Tour, there’s less time to recover and less time to build up because of course you have to rest up before the Tour,” said Evans, who last rode both races three seasons ago, finishing 5th in Italy and 26th in France after fracturing his elbow in week two. “In 2010, I really had to dig deep as I was pretty ill and that’s what cost me a lot then.”
Evans will not race again before the Tour’s Grand Départ in Corsica on June 29, although he joked that his final programme still needs some tweaking. “Before I decided to go to the Giro, I already had a Tour programme. I think I was supposed to be going to Mont Ventoux tomorrow to do a course reconnaissance, but obviously we’ve had to move those things around,” said Evans.
“The first thing I have to do is recover for the Tour and then start training but the training requirement is not going to be very much because after the block of work I’ve had here, there’s not much more that I can do.”
BMC have already moved to dismiss any speculation that Tour of California winner Tejay van Garderen might lead the team in July and Evans’ solid showing at the Giro has doubtless helped to confirm the hierarchy. Accompanied by his son Robel on the podium in Brescia and on the post-race Processo alla Tappa show, however, Evans admitted that thoughts of the Tour could wait.
“I just want to go home and have some time to myself and not have my shirt pulled off me everywhere I want to go and just be a human being for a day or two,” he said. “Then I’ll start thinking about the Tour.”