Australian still hoping to turn his Tour de France around
Cadel Evans (BMC) lies 13th overall as the Tour de France returns to the mountains at Mont Ventoux on Sunday but the Australian is hopeful that he can move up the overall standings in the third week of racing.
Evans' hopes of final overall victory disappeared on the opening summit finish at Ax 3 Domaines last weekend, when Sky's pace-setting shattered the peloton on the final climb, but he recovered sufficiently to finish in the yellow jersey group on the following day's turbulent stage to Bagnères-de-Bigorre.
"Things turned around there on the stage after Ax 3 Domaines, so hopefully that's a sign of things to come," Evans told reporters. "I'm not going to give a written guarantee at this point because this is sport and this is cycling. I'm just staying patient and not trying to force things. Hopefully I'll keep improving towards Mont Ventoux but obviously the third week could be really interesting."
The Tour has visited Mont Ventoux just once during Evans' relationship with the race – on the penultimate stage in 2009, when he finished 31st, 5:45 on stage winner Juan Manuel Garate and 5:07 on Tour winner Alberto Contador – but he has climbed the Giant of Provence several times at the Critérium du Dauphiné and Paris-Nice over his career.
"I'm a bit rational about the climbs in that if I'm feeling good and performing well, I like the climb, and if I'm performing badly I don't enjoy it," Evans said. "Ventoux is long and open, and sometimes the long and open section with the wind can be a factor.
"It can make people a little bit more conservative with the wind because of the chance of being caught. If you go out alone, that can make it a bit more unfavourable for staying with the group that catches you."
Sky's mixed fortunes in last weekend's Pyrenean double-header and their failure to prevent Alberto Contador from stealing over a minute on stage 13's flat finale has prompted questions to be asked of Team Sky's ability to control the race as they did twelve months ago.
The 21-kilometre haul to Mont Ventoux is the rest of a series of robust tests of their collective strength between now and Paris, although Evans acknowledged that Chris Froome remains the strongest man in the race.
"I think for him, in terms of his performance at Ax 3 Domaines and in the time trial, he's on his own level here and no-one's getting near it," Evans said. "But like the stage to Bagnères-de-Bigorre, it's his team who could present problems to him."
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Tour de France
Tour de France 2013