Cadel Evans headed home to Switzerland from the Giro d'Italia with mixed emotions after finishing eighth overall. He has now finished in the top ten eleven times at a Grand Tour and completed sixteen three-week races.
He won the 2011 Tour de France and was considered a real contender in this year's race. However, the fight for places in the top ten of the 'classifica generale' was a like a game of snakes and ladders. Evans climbed to the top spot on stage eight to Montecopiolo and stayed in the pink jersey until the stage 12 time trial to Barolo. But the time he lost against the clock was his first slip up. Despite a dogged fight, he slipped further behind on the mountain finish to the Rifugio Panarotta and lost further time in the Cima Grappa time trial.
Evans is 37 and this year's Giro d'Italia could possibly be his last ever Grand Tour in his final season as a professional. His contract with BMC Racing expires this season and although it is likely he will stay with Andy Rihs's team rather going to Orica-GreenEdge or elsewhere, the end of the Giro d'Italia marks a crossroads in his career.
BMC team manager Jim Ochowicz has suggested that Evans will ride the Tour de Suisse later in June. But he is not part of BMC's plan for the Tour de France, with Tejay van Garderen named as team leader.
Wisely, Evans knows the end of a Grand Tour, with the pain of racing and the disappointment of defeat still burning in his legs and mind, is no place for rash decision or declarations.
"My patience and tolerance are not at their greatest right now. They are not at their optimal levels, so let’s not think about that please. I'm just thinking of today and getting home to my son tomorrow," Evans told the English-speaking media at the Giro d'Italia on the last day of the race.
Evans finished 12:00 behind Giro d'Italia winner Nairo Quintana (Movistar). He was third overall in 2013 and so was disappointed with the final result this year.
"Last year I couldn’t give it everything, and even though the result was better for whatever reasons I have to be happy for that," he said.
"Of course I am not satisfied with the result. Maybe in time I will be able to appreciate the effort we made and how we rode as a team: we rode very, very well. We rode far beyond what I had hoped for and I think the results in the first 10 days were indicative of that. Of course when we got into the third week with the mountains and that it was a different story. But that’s the way it goes. We came here with higher expectation, but I’m not going to … c’est la vie."