First-time Tour rider Cadel Evans (Davitamon Lotto) finished 14th today, 4'03 back. He suffered during the stage but dug deep to post a respectable ride. He told Cyclingnews' John Trevorrow what it was like after the finish.
"I got dropped on the final climb," he said. "I was on the limit for almost the entire previous climb. We chased back and just got back on at the bottom of the decent, then they hit it again."
"The guys in the front group are two or three levels higher than me. I did what I could. I rode conservatively. As soon as the moves started going above my limit, I rode at my own tempo. Before the stage, I thought if there was going to be a day (to do well), today was the day. It is a bit steeper, smaller roads, a change of gradient. But I am not of the level of the best guys here and that is the way it is. So you do what you can."
Evans went on to describe what he has learned on this year's race. "It's that the Tour is pretty hard," he stated. "It is my first Tour - remember, I didn't even get selected last year. I found a good group. I followed the moves when Lance went across and that put me at my limit. So at that point I came back, and then a group of riders came back and then Kashechkin. Then a group came back with Menchov. He set a good tempo."
"I seem to be on the level of fifth to 10th of this Tour on my best days. I said from the start I want to come here and see what I can do. I don't care what people think I might do. At the moment I seem to be able to climb with the first 10. I didn't make it on the last climb (today). Somewhere around there seems to be my limit ... at the moment."
Saying he will ride conservatively tomorrow, Evans states that Lance Armstrong is far ahead of the remainder of the field in the race. He feels that this makes things easier for him as the days mount up. "He is a level above, at least one maybe two," he stated. "When he gets pushed and someone attacks him, then he has another level he can ump to. When you are at that level you are not forcing your limits. You don't have to recover from as much effort day to day. It all accumulates to the end and you get stronger from it."
" Lance is the strongest Tour rider in the history of the Tour and he has the strongest Tour team. I've no idea how someone could beat him. No-one has been able to work it out yet, anyway."
"As regards how we got on, he says hello to me every day, how are you going and such. But everyone wants to talk to him, so I try and leave him alone as much as I can. I asked him a little bit today about some tactics, this and that and what might work for me and him. But I didn't have the legs. I had a bit of problem with my stomach."
Evans starts tomorrow's stage in twelfth place overall.