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BMC's Philippe Gilbert, Steve Morabito and Cadel Evans contest the final kilometre of the Mont Ventoux climb
BMC leader slips back to 16th overall
Any hopes that Cadel Evans (BMC) had of finishing in the top 10 overall of the 2013 Tour de France were dashed when the Australian lost contact with the lead group of riders halfway up the punishing Mont Ventoux.
The pace of Sky's Peter Kennaugh driving the group containing the maillot jaune Chris Froome, along with the likes of Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff), Nairo Quintana (Movistar), plus the Belkin pair of Bauke Mollema and Laurens ten Dam proved too much for Evans. He finished 8:46 behind stage 15 winner Froome, shepherded to the finish by teammates Steve Morabito and Philippe Gilbert. The 36-year-old slipped from 13th to 16th overall, 15:40 off Froome's overall lead.
"What can I say? I was nowhere near where I wanted to be and had a lot of difficulties," Evans, the 2011 Tour de France winner said.
The relentless pace of the peloton, which prior to reaching the foot of Mont Ventoux on the 242.5km stage was already 45 minutes ahead of schedule, took its toll on Evans.
"I was feeling fine to start, a bit tired after the start and exhausted even before we started the climb. It's hard to go in with big expectations when you're exhausted before the climb even starts. As the climb went on, [I felt] worse and worse. When you're popped out of the group, it doesn't do much for your motivation."
The team's plan had been for a teammates to be in the early break, with Marcus Burghardt along with Europcar's Pierre Rolland attempting to bridge to the 10-man escape group but the pair could only get as close as 15 seconds off the back before being swept up by the field.
"We wanted to have one guy in the break to be support for Cadel later in the race when it started to blow," teammate Brent Bookwalter explained. "He was a little ways off in the counter but it was still a good effort."
Evans admitted that Sunday's performance had not lived up to his expectations but said his focus was now on recovering during Monday's rest day before the Tour resumes in the Alps on Tuesday.
"I still want to do something in this Tour, get some kind of result," he said.