By Brecht Decaluwé in Eernegem
Australian cycling star Cadel Evans was in Eernegem to pay tribute to Wim Vansevenant, who is one of the domestiques who helped Evans at the Tour de France over the last four years. He looked back on the Tour, and the news that next year he could have to face off against seven time Tour winner, Lance Armstrong in next year's edition.
Evans was skeptical about how well the Texan would do with his comeback to the sport after four years away from the sport, and said he'd have to see him on the bike before considering how Armstrong would affect his own race. "Let's see. Overall it's good for the sport and the interest in cycling. I'm happy to have him back, but first we have to see," Evans said.
The Australian is at the tail end of a season which began in February at the Vuelta a Andalucía, and will come to a close at the Giro di Lombardia next week. He looked back on the Tour, where he took second overall for the second year in a row. He emphasized that his crash on stage nine hurt him more than he revealed at the time. "It was a really hard Tour for me. A lot of people don't realize the impact of the crash that I had in the first week of the Tour," Evans told Cyclingnews.
"I think there's only three people who understand how difficult it was for me in the Tour beyond that crash; it was difficult for me, and stressful. I did everything I could and in the end I'm happy with the Tour that I rode. It was a great race for the spectators. Other than the crash the Tour went quite well for me. I have to be happy with that," Evans said.
During the Tour de France Evans was under constant attack from the CSC team which had two team leaders, one being eventual winner Carlos Sastre and the other Fränk Schleck. Schleck admitted this week that he made a monetary transfer to the bank account of Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes, which has raised accusations that he was a client of the notorious blood-doping doctor, and the rider with the code name "Amigo di Birillo" from the Operación Puerto - charge he vigorously denied.
Evans was asked to speculate if, without Fränk Schleck in the Tour de France, it could have been easier for him to go up against the CSC squad. "No, CSC had the best team at the Tour for sure. What could we do?" Evans said. "We were good but we weren't the best. Everybody did what they could despite health problems and injuries, me included. What more could we do?" Evans said.
After enjoying the rain criterium in Eernegem - where Evans covered his helmet in a plastic bag to keep the rain out - the Australian will be preparing for the last race of the season in Lombardia next week. "It has been a long season. I've been up there for a while now."